Review Detail

3.4 7
Young Adult Fiction 4061
I probably would have enjoyed this one a lot more if I hadn’t disliked the characters so much.
Overall rating
Writing Style
The New Girl used to want to go to boarding school at Manderley, back when she was younger. But there wasn’t an opening back then. Suddenly, there is one and her parents are excited to let her go. Only, she’s not crazy about the idea now, that was her dream back then. But her parents are so excited for her, she agrees to go along with it. Once she shows up, she finds herself living in the shadow of the girl who disappeared last year.

Overall, I thought the plot was pretty good. I understand it is a retelling of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, but since I had never read that one, I didn’t know what to expect.

At first, I liked the New Girl’s character. She had a nice group of friends and she got along with her parents, even agreeing to go to the boarding school just to please them. Then, she arrived at the school and turned into a total weakling. I felt sorry for her as she arrived at this new school, kind of looking forward to it, only to be immediately shunned for no reason. She was in the dark about who Becca was and why she was so popular. Her new roommate was obsessed with Becca (I wondered if maybe she was in love with her) and all the kids in the school wanted to talk about was Becca. But New Girl just put up with it all, not asking questions or standing up for herself. After she agreed to go to the school just for her parents, I guess it would be considered characteristic of her to just lay down and let everyone walk all over her like that.

As for Becca, I never understood why she was such a beloved person. She lied and cheated and wormed her way around the school bending everyone to her will. She was a terrible girlfriend to not 1, but 2 boys and they both let her get away with it. Although, thinking about it now, I imagine the mystery of her disappearance made her infamous and that probably had a lot to do with her popularity once the New Girl arrived.

All of the other people in the school were thoughtless at best and some were downright cruel. The teacher’s were clueless and had no idea how much Becca’s disappearance was affecting everyone, especially New Girl.

Harbison did a fantastic job of describing the school and grounds; they were easy to picture in my mind, with foreboding buildings and the dark musty boathouse. There was some sex talk/doing and while it wasn’t super graphic, it might give younger teens pause. Lots of recreational drinking and drug use, including date rape drug use. There was a bit of a surprise ending; I thought I had it all figured out but I was wrong, which was good. If it had ended any other way, it wouldn’t have seemed as realistic.
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