When Ally was a freshman, her father’s bad business decision cost her family their fortune, as well as the fortunes of most of her closest friends. Ally and her parents fled in shame and haven’t been back to their hometown, Orchard Hill, since. Now it is just Ally and her mother, her father’s whereabouts unknown, and they are moving back to Orchard Hill where Ally’s mother has taken a job at the high school. Orchard Hill will never be the same for Ally. Her old friends have shunned her, not forgiving her for her father’s mistakes, her quick exit with no goodbye, or the fact that she is no longer a member of the elite rich and famous of Orchard Hill but instead lives in — gasp — a condo! Not only that but a new family has moved into her old house, the one with the personalized basketball court her father built just for her, and her former best friend, Shannen, is now best friends with the new occupant of her old bedroom. Ally tries to move on when it’s clear that she can no longer go back to her old life. She makes new friends, forges her own path, but she can’t seem to let go of the past or the hope to regain some of her former friendships. Making it even harder to let go is her growing attraction to Jake, the occupant of her old bedroom and newest member of her former crowd. Is there any way she can be with Jake when all of her old friends, his friends, shun her? Will they ever forgive her for the sins of her father?
Reaction: Not my typical kind of read, this book arrived on my doorstep at the right time, just when I was looking for something light and fun to read. I have never read a Gossip Girls or Private or It Girls or any of those other series but, from what I know, I believe this book will definitely appeal to the same audience. Despite my reservations that it would be filled with too much drama, backstabbing, and brand name dropping, I read with an open mind and really enjoyed this novel. I was pleasantly surprised that the brand names and pop culture references were kept to a minimum and flowed naturally in the story.
As for the story itself, I liked Ally. She’s been through a lot but she has tried to make the best of it. I didn’t always agree with her decisions and I don’t know why she would possibly want to be friends again with those girls, who are mostly evil and vindictive, but generally Ally was a likeable character. She certainly had her flaws, one big lapse in judgement in particular that comes back to haunt her, but she is a very realistic character. Jake, on the other hand, is not as likeable, at least not for me. The story alternates between Ally and Jake, so we get to see his perspective on things. I can see his appeal and the reason Ally is attracted to him, mostly because he is a hot boy, but he isn’t always the nicest guy. He is quite the player and I fear even if he becomes serious about Ally he won’t be able to stay faithful. He lives too much for his group of friends and does things against his better judgement to please them, though he gets a bit better at that as the story progresses. Despite my dislike of Jake, I found him to be a pretty believable teenage rich boy and, though I usually avoid alternating narrators, I enjoyed reading Jake’s parts almost as much as Ally’s.
I have to say I really liked the format of the novel as well. The story is broken down by months and takes place across an entire school year. Each new month page is smattered with a gossipy conversation between unknown people who are not the main characters talking about events happening to the main characters. Hard to explain, but I loved it. I do not necessarily love the cover. Looks a little too plain and the pearls a bit too old. I did like the font and coloring of the title.
The ending is a cliffhanger and I’m excited to see what happens next but seeing how She’s So Dead to Us doesn’t come out until May, 2010, who knows when the sequel will be out!
Review copy sent by publisher.