Rich girl Massie is ticked off. She's missing out on her friends' Labor Day shopping spree and spa visit, because her father's friend is moving into their guest house with his family. Just because their daughter, Claire, is starting seventh grade at Massie's school, Massie is expected to pal around with her. Never mind that the new girl is a loser in old Keds and overalls who will never fit into Massie's tight circle. So that friend thing? It's never going to happen.
Meanwhile, Claire is nervous. Westchester, New York seems like a new planet compared to Orlando, Florida. And Massie and her friends are the opposite of welcoming. At school, Claire finds all the students dressed identically, and expensively. Massie's group is all about designer wear --- a whole new concept for Claire.
Massie's friends do a number on Claire, including viciously sneaking dabs of red paint onto the back of Claire's white jeans. When Claire's embarrassed male teacher sends her directly to the nurse's office, Massie's friends give her the wrong directions, sending her bumbling into the photography class darkroom.
The clique continues in its unrelentingly cruel tricks on Claire. Claire, however, earns a certain secret grudging respect by handling the harassment with graceful pride. Massie would never admit it to anyone, but she starts to feel a tiny magnetic pull to the new girl, and even feels the slightest twinge of remorse at the way she and her friends treat her. That doesn't change their behavior, though.
In the meantime, Claire wishes deep down that Massie and her pals could be her friends. Instead, she buddies up with fun and funny Layne, who is also not A-list. That friendship ends, though, when Massie steals Claire's new (and only) friend.
Claire enjoys the rare occasions when she is accepted into Massie's group, but she inevitably pays for the pleasure by being targeted with mean pranks by them afterward. Claire's grace under pressure finally cracks, and she deals Massie some payback, sinking low for revenge.
THE CLIQUE is a fun, fast read. The girls slowly reveal that they are more than the cardboard characters they appear to be. Claire is classy and intelligent, but occasionally shows some lapses in judgment. Massie and her friends gradually let slip intriguing hints that they are not quite the shallow monsters they seem.