Cruel Summer by Alyson Noel. (Grades 9+)
It was supposed to be an awesome summer. Colby had finally penetrated the inner circle of the popular clique and she was looking forward to parties and sleepovers and general fabulousness to solidify her social standing. Then Colby's parents, going through a messy divorce, decide to send her to spend the summer with her crazy aunt in Greece.
Her aunt lives on a tiny island with no clubs or bars. She doesn't even have internet access! Obviously, Colby's life is ruined.
At first Colby clings to home, desperate to maintain the fragile friendship she's developed with bitchy Queen Bee Amanda. But once she stops clinging to everything she thought she had back home, she just might discover something better and learn to take life as it comes.
I really enjoyed this fresh, funny novel. It's told in emails, blog posts, text messages, etc. which really kept me turning the pages. To be honest, based on the cover and the title I didn't expect to like this one. I thought it would be one of those Gossip Girl/A-List/It Girl clones, but it had a lot more heart than I was expecting. It actually reminded me of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Colby's a bit of a brat at first, but her time in Greece really helps her get her head on straight and she develops a lot throughout the book.
It's a mite predictable and sometimes I thought Colby acted younger than her 17 years, but these are slight flaws in a really enjoyable story. Highly recommended for your next plane trip, beach vacation, or to escape the cold of your winter break. I'll definitely be looking for more by Alyson Noel.
Check out Alyson's website for her blog and info about her (many!) books. Melissa Walker's got Ms. Noel's thoughts on her book cover. And read another review at Teenreads.com.