Reviews

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Weightier than its title suggests, this well-executed first novel introduces three A-list high school seniors whose perfect lives are in disarray after a drunk-driving accident the previous spring, "After the first cracks that split into canyons between us, sending me spinning across the ocean, Nikki down the Crazy Diet Rabbit Hole, and Lacey into the Land of Crippled Martyrdom." Narrator Paige is "exiled" to Paris to work as an au pair while her image-conscious mother does damage control. Upon Paige's return, her friends are cold, distant, and resentful that she was able to escape for the summer. Although the girls put on a front of normalcy once school begins, underlying tensions threaten to undermine their relationship. With the help of a new writing teacher, Paige embarks on a painful but enlightening journey of self-awareness. The conflicts Paige faces and the changes she undergoes are powerfully evoked. Backes addresses guilt, deceit, homophobia, loyalty, and the burden of keeping up appearances in a brutally believable high school setting as Paige recognizes the weaknesses of loved ones and her own imperfections. Ages 14-up. Agent: Becca Stumpf, Prospect Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 8 Up-"Everyone knows you're not supposed to drink and drive," begins Paige Sheridan. Before the accident, she had been leading the life of a popular, privileged teen. Then one night of partying brings her perfect world to a halt. She and her two best friends were extremely lucky, and only Lacey had any lasting injury, but they were separated for the summer as their parents' exercised damage control. Paige was sent off to Paris as an unpaid babysitter, a job that sounded more exciting than it really was. When she returns, her friends and boyfriend become distant and unfriendly, while her mother expects her to carry on being the homecoming queen she was meant to be. Paige takes refuge in her creative writing class, where Mr. Tremont, an inspiring teacher, and some outsider classmates encourage her to be herself. But who is Paige Sheridan? Is she just a princess? Or is she something more? In this debut novel, Backes takes Dead Poets Society and brings it into the age of Mean Girls. Her writing style is witty while still being relatable, and the themes of acceptance and identity will ring true to teens. One aspect of the narrative deals with Mr. Tremont's possible homosexuality in an extremely close-minded town. Though this issue becomes one of the larger plot points, it is never fully addressed or resolved. While this may be less satisfying to readers, it is a realistic outcome. Backes re-creates a world that most teens already live in, with the overarching message that anyone can become more than what others perceive them to be.-Kimberly Castle-Alberts, Stark County District Library, Canton, OH (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Three would-be homecoming princesses Paige, Lacey, and Nikki are derailed by a drunk-driving accident at the end of their junior year. Which one of them is at fault, or are they all to blame? As senior year unfolds, Paige forms bonds with classmates who aren't A-list and moves further away from her old friends, old persona, and football-player boyfriend, Jake. Backes' smart debut hits high-schoolers with relevant issues, but there's perhaps one plot element too many, from the inspiring creative-writing teacher who is a target of homophobia in their small Iowa town to Nikki's anti-drunk-driving campaign to Paige's complex relationships with her mother and sister. Still, Paige's first-person narration is powerful, and readers will identify with her evolution: I'd been holding myself back, keeping myself between the lines other people had drawn for me. The core theme it's always possible to change your life isn't new, but it's worth repeating.--Kelley, Ann Copyright 2010 Booklist


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 8 Up-"Everyone knows you're not supposed to drink and drive," begins Paige Sheridan. Before the accident, she had been leading the life of a popular, privileged teen. Then one night of partying brings her perfect world to a halt. She and her two best friends were extremely lucky, and only Lacey had any lasting injury, but they were separated for the summer as their parents' exercised damage control. Paige was sent off to Paris as an unpaid babysitter, a job that sounded more exciting than it really was. When she returns, her friends and boyfriend become distant and unfriendly, while her mother expects her to carry on being the homecoming queen she was meant to be. Paige takes refuge in her creative writing class, where Mr. Tremont, an inspiring teacher, and some outsider classmates encourage her to be herself. But who is Paige Sheridan? Is she just a princess? Or is she something more? In this debut novel, Backes takes Dead Poets Society and brings it into the age of Mean Girls. Her writing style is witty while still being relatable, and the themes of acceptance and identity will ring true to teens. One aspect of the narrative deals with Mr. Tremont's possible homosexuality in an extremely close-minded town. Though this issue becomes one of the larger plot points, it is never fully addressed or resolved. While this may be less satisfying to readers, it is a realistic outcome. Backes re-creates a world that most teens already live in, with the overarching message that anyone can become more than what others perceive them to be.-Kimberly Castle-Alberts, Stark County District Library, Canton, OH (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.