Sunday, 28 May 2017

Beware that Girl by Teresa Toten (Bonnier Zaffre) PB RRP $19.99  ISBN 9781471406393

Reviewed by Daniela Andrews

‘… But in the end, the main thing I learned – the best thing – was never to bring a knife to a gunfight.’

To play or be played, that is the question. Kate needs some serious social credibility and a secure place to live in order to forge her path to Yale University. She’s living in sub-standard accommodation across town and working as many hours as she can, outside of school, to support herself. She attends her elite high school by scholarship – and by inventing an address. Hiding a terrible secret, she is desperate to change her fate and keep her promise to her dying mother at all costs … she will go to Yale, no matter what it takes or who she has to use to get there. With everything she has been through, it is no wonder she is mentally unstable.

Then there’s Olivia. Do we feel sorry for Olivia? Also hiding a secret about her past? So lonely and desperate for friendship – real friendship – that she falls prey to Kate’s manipulative charms and invites her to come and live with her?  Or does Olivia have her own, dark agenda that puts Kate at terrible risk?

As this dark and thrilling novel twists and turns, the reader will question which of these girls deserves their sympathy. Teresa Toten, award-winning author of The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, cleverly uses short chapters with shifting perspectives to keep her readers on edge. The chapters alternate between Kate and Olivia, though Kate’s chapters are always in first-person perspective and Olivia’s in third. The chapters are always dated. The opening is set in the future, describing the two girls in a hospital scene. It is not clear which girl is barely conscious, and which is keeping vigil by her bedside. The answer is, of course, revealed in the conclusion of the book. The final chapter is deeply disturbing, suggesting that the victim is still not safe. The book might, therefore, leave the reader quite unsettled! 

Beware That Girl is YA fiction, suitable for readers aged 14 – 17 years. The publisher suggests it might appeal to fans of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. It raises themes of friendship, physical and psychological abuse, and mental health conditions in general. A film adaptation is in production.


No comments:

Post a comment

Buzz Words Books would love to hear what you think.