November 10, 2004
Valentine’s Day and Lia Axford is depressed because no one has sent her a Valentine’s Day card. She is still
adjusting to her new life in Cornwall. Lia had loved her old school, but ended up boarding there when her parents moved to
a new home, far from London. She missed her family and decided to live at home and start over at a new school. She has made
some great friends there, particularly Cat, Becca, Mac and Squidge. But she wonders how she will fit in at this new school.
Her dad is a famous rock star. Her mother is beautiful, her brother and sister are popular and outgoing and Lia feels invisible,
no matter how beautiful everyone says she is. She wants to conceal her parents’ wealth and her father’s
fame from her new schoolmates, hoping to fit in with the rest of the crowd.
Kaylie O’Hara is teen queen of the new school, along
with her group of Clones. She has set her sights on newly unattached Jonno Appleton, the most popular boy in their class.
But to Lia’s surprise, Jonno is interested in her, not Kaylie. While Lia
is flattered by the attention, she fears that Kaylie will be out for revenge.
Sure enough, Kaylie and the Clones set out to make Lia’s life miserable.
No matter what Lia does, Kaylie has zeroed in on her as target and the bullying
begins. Kaylie starts rumors, humiliates Lia at every turn, making sure
that whatever she does cannot be pinned on her. This causes Lia’s self-confidence to take a nosedive, wondering if she
is imagining that Kaylie is behind this mess. She is also confused over who her
real friends are. In the satisfying resolution of this book,
Kaylie gets her comeuppance and is exposed for the bully she is, and has always been.
It is sad and disturbing to realize how prevalent this kind of bullying is these days, typified not
only by the experiences of so many young girls, but brought jarringly to our attention by recent movies such as Mean Girls
and 13 Going on 30. It is important to teach children that bullying of any kind is never acceptable and
that keeping silent is toxic to their self-esteem and relationships with others.
American readers might have a bit of trouble understanding some of the British colloquialisms, but
the message in this book is well worth the effort. The writing is authentic and
it is apparent that Cathy Hopkins has done her research well, delving into
the psyches of young teens and creating characters that will be immediately recognizable to her readers.
Reviewed by Nancy Machlis Rechtman