Sixteen-year-old Violet and her best friend, Katie, do everything together. They attend an all-girls prep school in the Boston area, and while their home lives differ slightly (Violet's parents are more supportive and less affluent), their shared concerns are typical: crushing on the same guy, worrying about PSAT scores and getting into an Ivy League college, and juggling afterschool activities. Success seems to come easily for Katie, while Violet is a workaholic, but both girls are deeply stressed by academic pressures. When Katie begins acting out (suggesting they get drunk, stealing Ritalin, dating a burnout), Violet's world is turned upside down. While debut author Sales conveys the dynamics of the girls' friendship with honesty and a light touch, her meandering vignette-style narrative doesn't gain focus until the second half of the book, when Katie's self-destructive streak emerges and Violet's insecure, competitive character gains more likeable dimensions. Katie emerges as the more compelling individual; readers will likely understand her decision to leave the shelter of her privileged private school world to seek more diverse life experiences. Ages 14�up. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
*“Witty and unpretentious, Violet is a likable narrator. Suggest this one to readers who enjoy the writing style of Ally Carter. A strong debut that is not be missed.”
STARRED REVIEW, School Library Journal, Oct. 2010
"Brilliant, poignant, and straight-up hilarious. Leila Sales is a fresh and fabulous new voice in YA."
Lauren Oliver, bestselling author of Before I Fall
"Written as a series of notably short chapters, the names of which provide a fair amount of punch on their own ("Sophistry in Spanish class")....[Mostly Good Girls is] overall an enjoyable, light read."
"Private-school culture functions only as a backdrop here; Sales focuses her debut [Mostly Good Girls] on the dynamics between Violet and Katie, and the friendship story is refreshingly free of confrontational cliques and catty female stereotypes, while short, snappy chapters keep the story moving.... Recommend this to fans of Meg Cabot’s novels and academy-based stories." Booklist
"Sales conveys the dynamics of the girls' friendship with honesty and a light touch." Publishers Weekly
VOYA - Marlyn Beebe
Violet and her best friend Katie are juniors at the exclusive, private Westfield School, near Boston. They've been friends since they were both assigned to work on a project together in their first year at Westfield. Violet's plans for the year are pretty basic: get straight As, do well on the PSATs, edit the school's literary magazine, and figure out how to talk to boys. She always thought that Katie's plans were much the same, but Katie is changing. She has a bucket list of "teenage things" to do, and seems to think that sensible Violet should share the experiences with her. Violet goes along with starting up a fake tour for the lower school students (to earn money), and getting drunk (just for the experience), but when her friend starts dating a marijuana-smoking barista, Violet starts to distance herself. In an effort to smooth things over, Violet lets Katie convince her to add a cruel reality-based story to the winter edition of the school magazine. The administration does not take this well, and Violet finds herself bearing the blunt of the responsibility and punishment, while Katie decides to leave the school. This exploration of growing up, personal change and angst is well-written, and will likely be enjoyed more by the Violets than by the Katies. Reviewer: Marlyn Beebe
School Library Journal
Gr 9�11—Katie and Violet have been inseparable since seventh grade. The competition among the juniors at their all-girls private school is fierce, even between these friends. Violet doesn't understand Katie's recent decisions to keep her PSAT scores a secret, quit crew, get intoxicated, and date a guy who appears to be a loser. Violet is jealous that Katie can effortlessly do everything, making her question why she is seemingly throwing it all away. In an effort to rekindle their strained friendship, the girls publish an unauthorized parody of their school in the literary magazine that Violet edits. She takes the punishment that is doled out, but Katie does not comply with what is asked of her. With this turn of events, Violet finally learns what has been motivating Katie. Witty and unpretentious, Violet is a likable narrator. Some of her funniest reactions are in response to the dating advice Katie shares from a magazine she's read. Each of the classmates has a discernible personality. The girls discuss crushes, fashion, and gossip, but Sales delves into more serious issues like the pressure to be perfect and how it can manifest itself. Suggest this one to readers who enjoy the writing style of Ally Carter. A strong debut that is not be missed.—Lori A. Guenthner, Baltimore County Public Library, Randallstown, MD
Violet Tunis has always felt like second best, especially when she's around her particularly smart, wealthy and beautiful best friend, Katie, who seems to effortlessly be the best at everything. Having been friends from the seventh grade (after a brief three-day period when they were "sworn enemies"), by their junior year at their tony Boston private school, Westfield, Violet has come to accept and admire Katie's success.However, when Katie starts acting in a self-destructive manner by quitting crew, breaking Westfield's rules and engaging in risky behavior with drugs and alcohol, Violet is torn between her loyalty to Katie and her own internal barometer of right and wrong. Written as a series of notably short chapters, the names of which provide a fair amount of punch on their own ("Sophistry in Spanish class"), some sections feel abruptly staccato and underdeveloped. Although overall an enjoyable, light read, there are few surprises, and the pat ending leaves this text feeling flat. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Violet Tunis goes to Westfield School, an expensive private day school for girls in Boston, Massachusetts, where she works very hard to do well. Violet idolizes her best friend, Katie Cabot Putnam, whose life seems to be effortlessly perfect. They both have a major crush on Scott Walsh, the unattainable cute boy from Harper WoodbaneWestfield's brother school. Violet is the editor in chief for her school's literary magazine, Wisdom. She loves the job and wants to improve the magazine's status in the eyes of her fellow students. Katie begins to change during the course of their junior year and, much to Violet's dismay, starts dating a nineteen year old high school dropout who drinks and smokes marijuana. The girls get into trouble over a satirical short story about their school and classmates for which they are supposed to apologize or face having a permanent bad mark put on their school records. Violet and Katie have a huge argument over whether they should acknowledge their poor judgmentKatie does not think they have done anything wrong, but Violet worries how much harder the bad report will make it for her to be accepted at a top notch college. They have a good talk after Violet does apologize to their class and Katie apologizes for having hurt her best friend. Katie ends up going to public school because she needs to get away from her lucky upper class life. Violet discovers she has more going for her than she thought and learns to survive school without Katie. It is refreshing to read a book about privileged girls who do not obsess on clothes or use such words as "fav." Violet and Katie are believable, flawed girls, which makes this story quite enjoyable. Plus, there is a lot of subtle humor in this book. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
Read an Excerpt
Getting comfortable with our …
never mind, I can’t say it
Sex ed has got to be the most embarrassing subject a high school could possibly teach. It’s also useless, since the only thing Ms. Wheeler lectures about is various forms of birth control: the pill, condoms, sponges, etc., all of which may be academically interesting but is still practically meaningless, since I don’t know any boys. Well, okay, I know Scott Walsh and a few other Harper Woodbane guys—but I can’t imagine ever being in a position where exchanging sexually transmitted diseases with any of them would be an option. Learning how to protect myself from chlamydia is nice, but if Ms. Wheeler really wants to sexually educate me, she could start by teaching me how to talk to a boy without choking on my own saliva.
Today in sex ed Ms. Wheeler talked about what our “options” would be if we got pregnant, which is ridiculous, since everyone knows that if you get pregnant, you get kicked out of school. The Westfield School offers a few key perks that our local public schools do not, including
a) no one ever brings a gun to school.
b) every student goes on to a four-year college.
c) none of the students are ever pregnant.
Those are the rules.
Still, Ms. Wheeler told us that if we got pregnant—presumably through immaculate conception, since 96 percent of us aren’t sleeping with anyone—then we could get an abortion, or we could carry the baby to term before giving it up for adoption.
Rachel was taking copious notes, I assume because she thought there was going to be a test on this material, not because she was truly worried about getting impregnated. Rachel, like me, doesn’t have even a dot next to her name. I also couldn’t help glancing at Mischa(!) to see how she was taking all this. She sat in the back of the room, painting her nails, looking bored and virginal. Playing it cool, Mischa.
Pearl raised her hand and asked, “But if you get pregnant, can’t you keep it?” We laughed at her because, like, no, you can’t keep it. We’ve all met Pearl’s mom. She’s the dean of admissions at Harvard Business School, and she’s just counting down the days until Pearl is old enough to be CEO of a multinational corporation. If Pearl thinks she can just give all that up to become some child raiser, she is even more of a moron than I thought.
Ms. Wheeler, though, is the sort of teacher who doesn’t believe in telling students that they’re wrong—which may be why she teaches sex ed as opposed to math. So she just hinted to Pearl that it’s hard to be a full-time college student while mothering a toddler. Duh, Pearl. Then Ms. Wheeler had us all say “vagina” a bunch of times in unison, so that we will become comfortable with our vaginas.
Do you see what I mean about sex ed?
© 2010 Leila Sales