Bittersweet Sixteen [NOOK Book]


Balloons and streamers? Carvel cake? Those might be standard fair for your average birthday party, but Whitney Blake and Sophie Mitchum are anything but average.

I'm Laura Finnegan – thrift store junkie and scholarship student at Tate, our posh all–girls high school in Manhattan. I'm not like Whit or Soph, but that doesn't stop us from being BFFs. But then they started tuning in to the all–Sweet Sixteen, all–the–time channel. Now tempers are flaring, Prada bags are flying, and ...

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Bittersweet Sixteen

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Balloons and streamers? Carvel cake? Those might be standard fair for your average birthday party, but Whitney Blake and Sophie Mitchum are anything but average.

I'm Laura Finnegan – thrift store junkie and scholarship student at Tate, our posh all–girls high school in Manhattan. I'm not like Whit or Soph, but that doesn't stop us from being BFFs. But then they started tuning in to the all–Sweet Sixteen, all–the–time channel. Now tempers are flaring, Prada bags are flying, and guys are being tossed around in vicious tug–of–war battles. Whose Sweet Sixteen will reign supreme?

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Sarah Cofer
Laura Finnegan is a scholarship student at Tate Academy, the top private all-girls' school in New York. Laura is not wealthy and is glad that she is not able to compete for the best Sweet 16 extravaganza like her super-rich friends. Drama ensues when Laura's best-friend-forever Whitney's "Queen Bee" status is challenged by Sophie, the new girl from Los Angeles. Whit and Sophie discover that they have the same birthday and fight over the dates for their parties until Laura talks them into having a joint party. At first Whit and Sophie are skeptical, but soon plans of Tiffany jewelry party favors and flatware are the only conversation topics, causing Laura to feel like a third wheel. When Sophie hits on Jake, the hottie Whit is after, the joint party is called off and Laura is caught in the middle, torn between her two friends and gorgeous Jake, on whom she secretly has a crush. This novel is another addition to the abundance of chick lit for teens. The writing can be a bit over the top with the made-up lingo like "heinosity", "lame-issimo", and "Ringwaldian." The major flaw-if a flaw at all-is that Laura's character is too perfect. She is smart, unbelievably level-headed, makes her own clothes because she cannot afford designer, and gushes about how much she loves her parents (who are too good to be true.) From the Prada bookbags to the major catfights, this fast read is full of pop cultural references and enough fashion, drama, and romance to hold readers' attention.
VOYA - Kate Rose
Bittersweet Sixteen is a fast-paced, entertaining read. The main character, Laura, is engaging and offers clever comments, but most other characters, including Laura's two best friends, seem like stereotypical rich girls. The phonetic language that replaces inappropriate words makes the dialogue more realistic, although occasionally ineffective. The book's themes of being true to oneself and coming of age will appeal to girls twelve to fifteen who enjoy reading about older girls and their high school problems.
Children's Literature
It is easy to get sidelined by the superficial characters and dialogue in this YA chic-lit story about suber-rich and snobby girls in an exclusive New York City prep school. Once readers get past the name-droppingly hip dialogue—"Her face is chipped Bryan Adams style from all the zits she picked. It gives me the cringe tingles"— and the characters start to develop, the novel gains some merit. At the heart of the story is sensible, scholarship student Laura, who sews her own clothes and is a budding designer. She has been a friend since kindergarten with blue-blood Whitney, but their friendship is challenged once Sophie, the daughter of a west coast movie director, moves to New York. Sophie and Whitney become obsessed with planning their lavish sweet-sixteen parties, and Laura, who cannot afford one, tries to be friends with both of them. Her plan backfires, and soon none of the threesome will speak to each other. Thrown into the mix is perfect man Jake, whom Whitney and Sophie compete over, and Laura loves from afar. Although the ending is a little too neatly tied up and Hollywood-happily-ever-after, the three main characters are well developed and the story moves along briskly. Laura survives throughout all the hissy fits and catfights, and emerges with her values intact. 2006, HarperCollins Children's Books, Ages 12 up.
—Leslie Wolfson
Real-life friends Carrie Karasyov and Jill Kargman have teamed up to write about the private school experience of the rich, the famous and the scholarship girls of New York City. The events center around a new girl from California, Sophie Mitchum, and a socialite from New York, Whitney Blake, in a fairly predictable turf war over Jake Watkins. The battle is detailed amidst New York scenery, shopping sprees and weekend trips to Europe. What keeps it from being too typical is the voice of Laura Finnegan, the scholarship student. Laura is well grounded, with solid parental support and a talent in fashion design. She is in between the two queen bees as they face off over the requisite Sweet Sixteen society bash. First she is in the loop, then she is out of the loop, and then the girls, egged on by mothers, each demand her loyalty as they square off against each other. Through it all Laura is trying to keep old friendships and open the group up to new friends and new ideas. She comes to terms with her own lack of fame and fortune and sees her own family as a treasure. Teen readers will love the details and vicariously whirl their way through social contexts they only read about in magazines, but they will also see what it means to be true to oneself. Laura's voice mediates between her friends and grounds the story in solid social values. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2006, HarperCollins, 208p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Janis Flint-Ferguson
Bonny Martens
Bittersweet Sixteen is a look into the lives of a group of teenage girls living in New York City and attending an out-of-your-reach expensive all-girls school. The story is told from the perspective of Laura, who is attending the school only because of scholarships. While her friends are wearing designer clothes and renting private jets to fly to Europe, Laura gets caught up in the whirlwind of being a teenage girl trying to "keep up with the Joneses." The language and descriptions used in this book remind me of a mix of Fox's "The O.C." and MTV's "My Super Sweet 16." Bittersweet Sixteen would be enjoyed by any teenage girl who wonders what it would be like to have a glamorous life in New York City, but who knows that the reality of life is having great friends and family who allow you to be yourself.
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-Laura, a scholarship student at an elite high school in New York City, is surrounded by superficial, backstabbing rich girls, all obsessed with having the best Sweet Sixteen party. Despite the differences in lifestyles, she has a solid group of friends, as well as a best friend, Whitney. Everything is running smoothly until the new girl, Sophie, arrives. She is extremely rich, pretty, and fashionable, and wiggles her way right into Laura's group of friends and disrupts the equilibrium of the clique. Before long, everyone is fighting. Laura is the only one who remains true to herself and, with the help of a certain boy, learns about the importance of friendship. Designer names are dropped throughout and the girls are fixated on their weight, capturing some of the issues that teenage girls obsess over in America. But underneath all the fluff and superficiality are lessons on friendship and love.-Kristen M. Todd, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Right On!
“Disappointed that the multi–million copy selling Gossip Girl series by Cecily Von Ziegesar has closed the final chapter on the young socialites’ high school years? If you are, well then here’s the book for you.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061973970
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/6/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 472,195
  • Age range: 13 years
  • File size: 430 KB

Meet the Author

Carrie Karasyov & Jill Kargman are best buds who met at their all-girls private high school in New York City. They have cowritten two novels for adults, The Right Address and Wolves in Chic Clothing, and two novels for teens, Bittersweet Sixteen and Summer Intern. Carrie is also the author of The Infidelity Pact, and Jill is the author of Momzillas.

Jill Kargman is the New York Times bestselling author of nine books, including The Right Address, Wolves in Chic Clothing, Momzillas, and The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund. Her latest effort is a nationally bestselling book of essays, Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut. She is also a featured writer for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Town & Country, and Elle, and a copywriter for her greeting card company, Jill Kargman Etceteras.

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Read an Excerpt

Bittersweet Sixteen

By Carrie Karasyov

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Carrie Karasyov
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060778458

Chapter One

There's one thing you have to know. In the world of private schools, penthouses on Park Avenue, chauffeur-driven Bentleys, and $100-a-plate family dinners at Le Cirque, one thing reigns supreme as the pinnacle of a tenth-grade girl's social calendar in New York: the almighty Sweet Sixteen birthday extravaganza.

It was the first day of school, sophomore year. That September anticipatory stress was coursing through every capillary of every student, and not because of the backbreaking textbooks already tucked into our Marc Jacobs bags for the nightly grind. It was because the competition for the best Sweet Sixteen soiree was about to start, and it was steep. I mean, way more cutthroat than the honor society plaque.

Let me back up. My name is Laura Finnegan and I live in New York City. My school is not your average football 'n' cheerleader, pom-pom, pep-rally, flag-waving, all-American Rydell High kind of place. No varsity letters, no football games, no prom king . . . no prom. See, my school, Tate Academy, is -- gasp -- all girls. I know, nightmare, right? Oh, and did I mention the uniform? Gray pleated skirt and white button-down shirt. Not that we really care; I mean, who are we trying to flirt with by our lockers?No one! Oh, and btw, we don't even have lockers; we have carpeted lounges with individual closets opening onto the couch-filled room.

See, Tate is the top private all-girls academy in New York, a bastion of education and refinement that has been enlightening the city's finest young ladies for over two hundred years. Jackie O. personally saw to its landmark preservation in the eighties, when the ivy was eating away at the historic limestone facade. Located on the uberposh Upper East Side, it boasts a student directory where most of the last names are the same as Fortune 500 companies.

Except for moi -- I don't recall seeing Finnegan, my family's name, on any publicly traded stocks, or published in Forbes, or published ever, for that matter. Okay, maybe in a scholarly quarterly journal or something, but certainly not in the glossy party pictures of Vogue or Town & Country, where I regularly spied my classmates' moms in their couture designer duds.

Luckily, I don't really have to deal with all the over-the-top craziness of my own Sweet Sixteen. See, when I talk about these parties, I'm not talking about pizza and Pepsi at the local bowling alley. I mean black tie. I mean hotel ballrooms and flowers and lighting schemes and bands; events that cost more than a down payment for a small house in Ronkonkoma. But because my parents are NYU professors and barely have enough dough to have a Chuck E. Cheese fete, freaking about having the best bash isn't even an option. Don't get me wrong; it's not like I'm on welfare or anything, but my parents can't even pay twenty grand a year for tuition at Tate on their teacher's salaries, so they obviously are not going to cough up half a mill on a rager that lasts a few hours. And although I admit that sometimes I like to imagine what sort of multimillion-dollar soiree I would host if I had the chance, honestly, seeing how everyone was wigging over hatching their gilded plans made it a little easier to be poor.

So this autumn, when we all returned to school, I was prepared to ignore all the party-planning brouhaha and just dive into my textbooks and chalk up some A's so I had a decent chance of a scholarship to an Ivy. The morning crunch of girls packed our class lounge, snapping cell phones shut, hanging up Gucci overcoats, and unpacking their Prada book bags into their closets. I said hi and greeted some of my classmates, asking breezily about their summers and hearing their litany of whirlwind adventures and world travel -- one skied in the Alps, one attended summer classes at Le Rosee in Switzerland, one worked with "youths" in inner-city Chicago by day (then checked in to sleep at the Drake Hotel by night), and one hot-air ballooned through Scandinavia. Me, I worked at a camp in Maine teaching sewing in the crafts department and had fun but was psyched to come home and see my friends. Most of all, my best friend, Whitney.

Whitney Blake is pretty much perfect. But not annoyingly perfect, just effortlessly flawless. Buttery blond and blue-eyed with Waspy facial architecture that Michelangelo would have used as a blueprint for his next statue, she was christened in Baby Dior, summered in Southampton, and sampled her first potato galette with caviar at age seven. I know, it sounds nuts, but it's all she's ever known, and she's actually really down to earth. Otherwise, I wouldn't be friends with her. We bonded from day one when she complimented my French braid in second grade, and since I am an only child and she has an older brother she never sees, we became almost like sisters. She never made a big deal about my non-glam background; in fact, she loves my fam -- and the fact that my house is normal, happy, and chill. If her parents are jet set, mine are sofa set: mellow, book reading, and always relaxed. Whitney and I just get each other the way old friends do; we complete each other's thoughts and sentences; it's like we have a code.

We do have our differences; I can get stressed out (schoolwork, parents, life) and she's usually very calm and confident. That's because when you've pretty much been the queen bee for as long as anyone can remember, no one tries to dethrone you. The whole Sweet Sixteen thing? Not a thorn in Whit's side -- she and everyone else knew her January party would blow everyone else's out of the Evian. She's not cocky about it; she just knows. Like with guys. They woooorship her. I mean, putty in her manicured hands. They circle around her like sharks on the prowl for her size-four chum.


Excerpted from Bittersweet Sixteen by Carrie Karasyov Copyright © 2006 by Carrie Karasyov. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 38 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    DEFINETELY Not Bittersweet!

    I really liked this book, because it included problems that girls face everyday. It was unique at the same time, though! I love how Lauren doesn't care what others think! She is such a great person, READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2008

    A reviewer

    this book is so good! read it!!!!!!! i coyuld read it so many times and still love it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2008

    One of my favorite books!!!

    This is such a good book! I just couldn't put it down! It is romantic, funny, and leaves you wanting it to be a longer book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2008

    best book!

    this book is the BEST! i loved how jake fell in love with 'finland'at the end .. its such a good&romantic book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2014

    bittersweet sixteen definitely gave me bittersweet feelings. I h

    bittersweet sixteen definitely gave me bittersweet feelings. I haven't read any other book by Carrie Karasyov but her writing style isn't what bothered me. i feel that this book is targeted more for younger girls around 13 or 14. the book does a good job of expressing the pressures of being in high school and trying to fit in. other than that its not the most relatable because its not everyday a 16 year old goes to a private school on a scholarship with other girls who are all the offspring of celebrities and movie producers or just filthy rich. also its not everyday your two bestfriends get into a fight over who has the most extravagant sweet 16 party throughout the state. bittersweet 16 is cute but not so much an intelligent or meaningful read if thats what your searching for. young girls could relate to the main character Laura while in school because she just wants to be like everyone else and do all the fancy things her rich friends get to do. its full of all the teenage drama and fights girls go through. you have the basic middle school love story, the cute boy likes the pretty girl and would never think twice of "average" girl. throughout the book you feel for Laura and wish she would more considerate friends and the courage to speak her mind. when the book finally has its turning point i felt excited for them and as if i was really there. the end is relieving and you almost hope one day it'll happen to you in a less dramatic way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

    Finally found another laura :D

    I loved this book. I read it when I myself wanted a really super sweet sixteen. The fact that all of Laura's friends have money and she doesn't I can relate to, being the poorest of my gagle of friends. Laura finally gets a wake up call about what means the most to her and that you can have a great Sweet 16 without having to spend a ton of money. She really developes throughout the book and its fun to be around when she goes through everything.

    Caution I can't spell

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011


    This is an awesome book and i could really conect to the main character. I think everyone should read this book... welll only girls.

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  • Posted June 13, 2011



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  • Posted June 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Glitz and Glamour!!!!! :#

    I dont know about this book.:.((. I mean, it was all fun from the glitz and glamour. . . . but i mean come on . You can tell fom the begining that in the end laura would end up with jake. He was perfect for her, not whitney or sophie. I think no matter how much they apologized to laura she now knows how they truly are so she can keep on watchin her back around them. You could kind of tell how the book goes. If the book was real, i would have liked to go to whitneys and sophies sweet sixteen parties. that would be sooo rad. All in all, you shold get this book and read it if you are bored , thats what i did i thought it was nice. I write this reveiew thruthfully and honestley.When I got to the end of the book ifelt like shouting yippee yi ya!!!! for laura for FINNALY hooking up with jake. I saw it coming all along but i was still excited.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2009


    Bittersweet Sixteen was an amazing book! It was very cute and somewhat funny. You can really relate Bittersweet Sixteen to real life. I really never liked reading, and I decided to give this book a try. It was an amazing book. Now I find myself wanting to read all the time. Carrie and Jill make you feel like you are a part of the book, experiencing the drama and gossip with the characters. Bittersweet Sixteen was an awesome and cute book. I promise you will like it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2009

    This is an amazing read.

    I am now in love with this book. I'm really sad that there is not going to be a sequel:[

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius" for

    Fifteen-year old Laura Finnegan can't quite decide if she's blessed or cursed to be able to attend Tate Academy, the top private all-girls school in New York. Since her parents are both professors at NYU, they definitely can't afford the twenty-thousand dollar a year tuition, so she's there on a scholarship. Laura definitely appreciates the opportunity, but there are times that the over-the-top behavior of her fellow students drives her crazy. Laura's passion is design, and she's a whiz with a sewing machine. Thankfully, her group of closest friends--best friend Whitney, Ava, and Kaitlin--are totally impressed with her fashion sense. <BR/><BR/>Whitney Blake, Laura's greatest friend, also happens to be the most popular girl at Tate Academy--and one of the richest. They have the perfect type of friendship; Laura never takes advantage of her friend's unlimited spending limit, and Whitney gives her friend the things she'd otherwise never get, like hand-me-down fashion designer clothes, trips with her on family vacations, and a guaranteed spot on the A-list. Things get a little crazy, though, when Sophie Mitchum moves from California to New York. <BR/><BR/>Sophie and Whitney circle each other like sharks on that first day, both knowing that they hold a special position in Tate Academy's pyramid of popularity. Whitney has always been Queen Bee, and instantly feels threatened by Sophie's sudden intrusion. Sophie held the same title back in California, and is determined not to ruin her chances on popularity at this new school. What follows is a short period of wariness that leads to mutual respect. That is, until Whitney learns that Sophie has scheduled her sweet sixteen blowout party on her birthday. Seems the girls share the same day, and things will never be the same at Tate Academy. <BR/><BR/>As the girls decide that maybe the situation can be salvaged by holding joint birthday parties (which just happened to be Laura's idea), things go from bad to worse. Laura finds herself in the middle of the mother of all wars when Whitney and Sophie can't work out their differences. Suddenly, designer handbags are flying, students are being used as pawns, boys are in the middle of a tug-of-war, and no one is getting the short end of the stick more than Laura. Whitney, her best friend forever, is causing more pain than a trip to the dentist, and Sophie, her new friend, isn't helping. <BR/><BR/>BITTERSWEET SIXTEEN is a funny, interesting look into the world of money, power, and popularity of teen girls who have more credit cards than they know what to do with. Definitely an entertaining read, as Laura must find out what having real friends is all about.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2008

    Great book!

    Personally, I loved this book. It showed that sweet sixteens can be stressful yet they can be fun. I really liked how Laura was down to earth and she didn't care if her party was expensive or fancy. I think there are a lot of girls in the real world who act like the ones in this book who are mean and catty but also nice, understanding girls like Laura. Yeah it's nice to have a huge party with all of your friends and whatnot but it's also not bad to have a small party and still have fun. It all really matters who your true friends are and sometimes you need to find out the hard way like Laura. Overall, i would recommend this book to anyone who likes this style of writing or are around this age group.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2007

    i LOVED this book

    this book is really good its about how u kno how ur friendship is through hard times!!! i love this book soo much u have to read it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2007

    a reviewer

    this book was really good! i kind of knew what was going to happen though because i've heard this story somewhere. Anyways, it wasn't my favorite because it didn't grab me, and im a total book lover and i love to read but this one didn't make me want to have everyone read it. like i said, it was good and i got through it fast, but i didn't WANT to read it like other books, meaning, when i got something to eat, it didn't make me want to go back just to see what was happening next.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2007

    Coolest Book!

    This book was sooooooo good. I read it in like one night. U so gotta read it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2007


    This was a great book i read it none stop, it was funny, and charming!! Great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2007

    A reviewer

    it's not the best book ever but it's not the best worst book ever either. it's just an easy read. some parts of the book were predictable, like jake and laura's relationship. if you just want to read something and be satisfied read this

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2007

    Must Read!

    In the book Bittersweet Sixteen, the main character has to choose between her friends. The author writes this book with a lot of detail and you never want to put it down. She isn't rich like all the other girls at her school she is there on a scholarship. Because she isn't Rich like all the other girls, she can't have a huge, expensive sixteenth birthday party. What makes this book different it that most books have 3 girls and two of them don't like each other so they both try to take the 'other girl'. In this book that happens, but the 'other girl' doesn't choose between sides. Instead both the girls dump the 'other girl'. Then the 'other girl' is all alone and he no friends. Until, the boy, that both her ex-friends love, starts talking to her and makes her feel better. As the book goes on, both the girls still try to have the better party. This book is one of the best books I have read recently. I recommend it to all teenage girls!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2007

    Party or Friendship...What's more important?

    Laura and Whitney have been best friends since forever, Laura is at the all girls private school on scholarship, and Whitney is very wealthy. This is the year for sweet sixteen parties at the school, and everyone goes way out for them. In the middle of the year Sophie transfers to the school in New York from L.A. Laura and Whitney quickly befriend her. They find out that their birthdays are on the same day, so they decide to have their parties together. Whitney and Sophie get really cliquey and Laura is soon out of the picture. Eventually Sophie and Whitney have a big falling out over a guy that they both are in love with. They tell Laura that she has to decide who she will be friends with, but eventually they all turn on each other. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about girl stuff. I wouldn¿t recommend this to people who wanted to be educated. One thing I learned from this book is that parties are very important, but they shouldn¿t come before your friends. This showed me reality, and what can happen if you don¿t treat your friends kindly. Overall, this was one of my favorite books.

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