4.2 5
by Ann Redisch Stampler

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A toxic friendship takes a dangerous turn in this riveting novel from the author of Where It Began.

Emma is tired of being good. Always the perfect daughter to an overprotective father, she moves to Los Angeles dying to reinvent herself. This is why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her. And the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun

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A toxic friendship takes a dangerous turn in this riveting novel from the author of Where It Began.

Emma is tired of being good. Always the perfect daughter to an overprotective father, she moves to Los Angeles dying to reinvent herself. This is why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her. And the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge—and she wants Emma to come with her.

And it may be more than Emma can handle.

Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop…

How many lies can you tell your father, your best friend, your boyfriend, and yourself before everything falls apart?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After moving to Los Angeles with an overprotective father, 16-year-old Emma Lazar is eager to shed her “Emma the Good” reputation. When she is instantly befriended by beautiful but volatile Siobhan, Emma begins drinking, sneaking out to parties, and lying to her father (and nearly everyone else). While Siobhan spices up Emma’s bland life, Emma isn’t sure Siobhan is on her side—especially after Dylan, whom Emma describes as “the most attractive person I have even seen,” gets between them. Stampler’s (Where It Began) plot is steeped in ever-increasing drama and debauchery, including drug use, sex, and attempted murder; even so, the story drags at times as readers meander through familiar territory of expensive backdrops, boyfriend stealing, and beautiful but desperate friends. Stampler’s writing is confident, and Emma can be both funny and poetic (she describes an intimate moment with Dylan as “imprinted on my heart, like the afterimage of a burst of light, under your eyelids when you close your eyes”), but her story often lacks the momentum to keep this party going. Ages 14–up. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Jan.)
"In Stampler's unflinching look at wealthy, decadent youth and complicated relationships, there are no easy answers. Realistic characters with tight dialogue add to the tension—and there's plenty of it."
BookPage - Deborah Hopkinson
"Readers will root for Emma as she negotiates difficult choices and a first romance, and grapples with finding her moral compass. But in her heartbreaking portrayal of Siobhan, a young woman spinning out of control with no one able to catch her—not even her best friend—author Ann Redisch Stampler reminds us that losing a friendship can be just as painful as a failed romance."
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Johanna Nation-Vallee
Emma is a self-proclaimed “good girl,” with a well-meaning but overprotective father. When they move to Los Angeles, Emma is torn between the responsibilities of her old identity and the lure of the glamorous and decadent L.A. teen culture. At school she meets the worldly and reckless Siobhan, who decides Emma would be the perfect “friend” to corrupt. What follows is a story of conflicting loyalties and moral dilemmas. Emma is drawn more and more into Siobhan’s world of parties and drugs as the two devise a pact to prepare Emma for Afterparty, the end-of-school bash where anything goes. Plans go awry when the two end up falling for the same boy, however, ending in a tragic confrontation at Afterparty. Throughout the book Emma finds herself fighting for middle ground between the high school experience of “Emma the Good”—good grades, steady boyfriend, volunteering at the food bank—and the experience she gets with Siobhan—checklists, wild parties, and freedom from her father. Many readers will be able to relate to this classic teenage conflict, even if Emma’s privileged lifestyle feels unfamiliar. The characters are realistically flawed, and watching the story unfold is uncomfortable because of it. Afterparty will be most suitable for older teens due to drug-related and sexual themes and will probably be most popular among girls. Reviewer: Johanna Nation-Vallee; Ages 15 to 18.
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
The reader might say Emma Lazar is held in “protective custody” by her father; he does not want his daughter to turn out like her mother—a dead addict found behind a convenience store with a needle in her lifeless arm. Emma has had to give up a lot: her name, Amélie; her country, Quebec, Canada; her native language, French; and her religion, Judaism. But keeping a teenage girl from going to parties or out with friends or engaging in other normal adolescent behavior generally causes rebellion. So when Emma and Dad move to L.A. for his new job and her new fancy prep school, the girl goes wild. The first day of school she meets Siobhan Lynch, who is already past wild into dangerous; she leads Emma into over-the-top behavior. She tries to resist, but is sucked into “not-a-good-girl-anymore” behavior. Siobhan makes up a French boyfriend for Emma, supposedly to protect her from snarky remarks by the school’s mean girls. Of course, this keeps the school’s hottest guy, Dylan, from showing an interest in Emma. At Siobhan’s prodding, Emma’s behavior is increasingly dangerous. She sneaks out her bedroom window, frequently drinks too much, and tries drugs. Siobhan needles Emma into losing her virginity. By the time the notorious prom “Afterparty” rolls around, Siobhan has made Emma promise that if they are not ecstatically happy at the party, they should jump off the roof of the hotel. When Siobhan drags her to the roof, Emma resists her friend’s attempt to push over her over the side. Siobhan jumps over herself. She survives but refuses to be Emma’s friend, because she did not keep her promise to jump. This is a cautionary tale for teens and their parents. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan; Ages 14 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Emma is tired of being "Emma the Good," so when she and her father move to Beverly Hills for her junior and senior years of high school, she decides it is time to change. She understands her father's fears-her mother was an addict and died of an overdose-but he is smothering her with his rules and protectiveness. On her first day at school, she meets Siobhan and the two bond. Siobhan is everything Emma isn't-wild, unafraid, free to do what she wants with a mother who often eggs her on. Emma also meets Dylan, an enigma to whom she is immediately attracted-handsome, smart, a rebel. Siobhan and Emma make a pact that Emma will, during the course of her junior year, sneak out of the house, attend parties, drink, have sex, and attend the legendary Afterparty at the end of the school year. Emma becomes fairly comfortable living her dual life, and her friendships with Siobhan and Dylan grow, until Siobhan hooks up with Dylan at a party and the two begin dating. This is the beginning of the end as things start to spiral out of Emma's control. She is a strong character whose struggle to balance parental expectations and the typical teen desire for freedom reads very realistically. Siobhan, as the bad girl, and Dylan, as the bad boy love interest, are slightly more predictable but still well drawn and relatable. Most of the other characters, including Emma's dad, Siobhan's mother, and Dylan's parents, as well as the "mean girls" at the exclusive private school they all attend, are much more stereotypical. Overall, the book reads like a blend of a standard teen romance with Beverly Hills, 90210 and still manages to be appealing.—Janet Hilbun, Texas Women's University, Denton, TX
Kirkus Reviews
After years of moving from place to place with her overprotective dad, Emma Lazar is thrilled that her dad's latest job brings the two of them to Los Angeles. When vicious mean girl Chelsea Hay insults Emma at her new swanky private day school, the equally sharp-tongued Siobhan Lynch stands up for Emma. Thus begins a friendship that is both compelling and harrowing. Siobhan is a master manipulator, and her charm, persistence and denials of wrongdoing lead Emma to forgive and forget ever-crueler behavior and actions. Siobhan wants the pair of them to go to Afterparty, a notorious yearly party that "beyond defies description." To get sheltered Emma ready, she proposes a list of activities, mostly involving substance use and hookups with boys. The book begins with a sensational scene from its climax and the intimation that Emma will kill her best friend, but the story is much more character-driven than the opening suggests. At the center are Emma's relationships: navigating her father's rules and his disappointment when she breaks them, crushing on and getting close to dreamy Dylan Kahane, debriefing with her even-more-sheltered friend Megan, and being drawn into Siobhan's increasingly reckless agenda. Aside from a few avoidable misunderstandings between Emma and Dylan, this is a gripping and sometimes downright scary look at friendship and manipulation. (Fiction. 14 & up)

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Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 7.20(h) x 1.90(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


It is not the ending I expected. The free fall from the roof and the torn green awnings. Her body landing in a heap at the foot of a hydrangea bush. The hedges lit with pink Malibu lights that glint off the sequined skirt, the blouse half open, and her pale hair.

The thud, the doorman running down the sidewalk, and then sirens and more rain.

Siobhan the Wild and Emma the Good.

I was the good one . . . maybe not so much.

Poor Siobhan.

She could batter mean girls with a field hockey stick and make it seem accidental. She could break your heart and make it seem accidental.

And then she couldn’t. Then she was gone.


Maybe she is only temporarily asleep—but more likely, she is only temporarily alive.

Hanging on by her fingernails is what they say.

The wild one is gone and the good one . . . isn’t good. Because good girls don’t usually wear long sleeves to cover where their best friend’s fingernails scored their forearms. Good girls don’t usually slip out their bedroom window in a silver dress and taxi to the Camden Hotel late at night.

Good girls don’t usually kill their best friend.

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