New Girl [NOOK Book]


Welcome to Maderley Academy

I hadn't wanted to go, but my parents were so excited.... So here I am, the new girl at Manderley, a true fish out of water. But mine's not the name on everyone's lips. Oh, no.

It's Becca Normandy they can't stop talking about. Perfect, beautiful Becca. She went missing at the end of last year, leaving a spot open at Manderley—the spot that I got. And everyone acts like it's my ...

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New Girl

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Welcome to Maderley Academy

I hadn't wanted to go, but my parents were so excited.... So here I am, the new girl at Manderley, a true fish out of water. But mine's not the name on everyone's lips. Oh, no.

It's Becca Normandy they can't stop talking about. Perfect, beautiful Becca. She went missing at the end of last year, leaving a spot open at Manderley—the spot that I got. And everyone acts like it's my fault that infallible, beloved Becca is gone and has been replaced by not perfect, completely fallible, unknown Me.

Then, there's the name on my lips—Max Holloway. Becca's ex. The one boy I should avoid, but can't. Thing is, it seems like he wants me, too. But the memory of Becca is always between us. And as much as I'm starting to like it at Manderley, I can't help but think she's out there, somewhere, watching me take her place.

Waiting to take it back.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459220423
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 1/31/2012
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 498,546
  • Age range: 14 years
  • File size: 304 KB

Meet the Author

Paige Harbison is twenty years old, and a sophomore in college majoring in Studio Art. She lives with her golden retriever Rigby, and is the daughter of New York Times Bestselling Author Beth Harbison.
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Read an Excerpt

The panoramic view outside the windows of the bus showed a world that wasn't mine. It was chilly in early September and the trees were pine, not palm.

I grew up in St. Augustine, Florida. My life so far had been made up of conversations over noisy fans, shrieking at the sight of pony-size bugs in the shower, and coming home from the beach to find an alarmingly sunburned reflection waiting for me in the mirror. When I took my Labrador, Jasper, for a walk, it meant running in the surf and tossing a tennis ball into the waves. I hardly ever got in the car without my thighs sticking to the hot seats, and most of my neighbors were renters or vacationers. It wasn't Hawaii, but it wasn't New Hampshire, either. And that, unfortunately for this warm-weather girl, was where I found myself now.

Towering trees of dark, thick green loomed over the highway we rode down. It was fifty-five degrees out, the sun had already set at six, and it was only September second. St. Augustine isn't bliss all year round, and I'm the first to admit it, but it's never this cold yet. Not this early in the year. My friends back home were still going for swims after school every day and requesting outdoor seating at restaurants. Restaurants that I was already craving to order from again.

Behind me I was leaving all of the warmth of home, my best friends, and a really comfortable queen-size bed that lay next to a big window that overlooked the beach and filled my room with the smell of salty sand. I was leaving all of that for a boarding school. Up north. Where I knew no one.

I'd never been the new girl before, and I barely knew what to think. But every time I remembered that that would be my new identity, a surge of nervous anticipation spread from my chest right down to the pit of my stomach. I was about to step into the spotlight in front of eight hundred other students. Would they wait for me to dance and entertain them, or would they expect me to walk right across the stage and back out of sight?

And which would I do?

My parents had called this a "surprise." Poor, deluded, lovely things that they are. It turned out that they had been submitting an application for me every year since I'd begged to go to boarding school in eighth grade. I'd found this place on Google somewhere, and excitedly called them to the computer where I'd gone on and on about how much fun it would be.

This was right after I'd finished all of the Harry Potter books, unsurprisingly, and would have given anything to be swept away and told that my life was more than it seemed. When my first application was submitted and rejected, I'd burst into adolescent tears. When I had stepped into my new huge, public high school for the first time, I'd felt sick with regret that I couldn't be somewhere else. It felt so plain, so black-and-white.

But by the time my parents presented me with the fruits of their secret labors, I'd grown to really love my "plain" life—largely thanks to them, admittedly. Not even in that "never know what you've got until it's gone" kind of way. I was happy all the time. Sheltered and comfortable, true. Dreading college and being away from everything, also true. But I was happy.

I had a best friend, Leah, who was regularly in and out of the same relationship with one guy, a crew of other fun friends that I wasn't as close to but had plenty of fun with, and a seriously fantastic little family that I loved to come home to. If anything went badly in the rest of my life, there was always my mother to reassure me that the thing I really needed was a pedicure, and off we'd skip. My father could always come back from the grocery store with a York Peppermint Pattie and a tube of Pringles, knowing that my way to my happiness is often found through junk food. My four-year-old sister, Lily, could always cheer me up with a crayon drawing, or even the overheard sounds of her tiny voice in another room playing out some story with her toys. Not to mention again the warm breeze that whistled through my window every night, while I drifted off to sleep with Jasper curled up on my feet.

Oh, that feeling…I missed it already.

Last night seemed like forever ago.

But one lazy afternoon, my parents had called me in from the backyard, where I was tanning and listening to a book on my little white earphones, and into the kitchen. Lily was flinging macaroni and cheese, and my parents were beaming.

"What's going on?" I could tell something was up. My mother, the open book, looked like she was about to burst.

"We have a bit of a surprise for you." My dad grinned.

"We got you into Manderley!" my mother spilled.

She loved good news, gossip, excitement, parties and wine. She'd grown up in the heart of Paris with equally marvelous sisters, and so every word that came out of her mouth sounded like champagne bubbles. So I smiled, not registering what she'd said meant, or even—as was often the problem with my dear mother's accent—what she'd said. "Sorry?"

"Manderley Academy." My dad held up a brochure. "We know how badly you've always wanted to go. You got in, honey!"

He came over to give me a hug. My mother, who had been bouncing from foot to foot, her hands clasped together, followed him.

And, like that, there was nothing I could say. They were too excited. I tried to drop hints over the coming weeks, suggesting that maybe my going there wasn't worth the money, considering that it was only for one year. But they told me the money was already spent and that it would probably help get me a scholarship at one of the schools I'd already been accepted to.

"See, it's actually saving money," my father had decided.

My mom cooed from the next room that it was, "perfect, just pozee-tiffly perfect!"

Leah, ever the devoted best friend, patiently spent the rest of the summer helping me soak up as much of home as I could before leaving. We were having fun, when I wasn't catching her looking at me mournfully. At those points I'd say, "Lee-ah, I'll be back for college soon, and you'll be absolutely sick of me."

She'd nod, but then doubt would fill her eyes as she looked at me and she'd say something like, "But what if you don't come back?"

I'd laugh and assure her that there was no way that would happen. It had always been our plan to go to college together and be roommates. I ignored the voice in my head that asked if I was sure that's what I really wanted.

Of course it was. It's what I'd always wanted.

I ordered coconut shrimp from my favorite restaurant every other day, in an effort to get sick of them. Instead, I think what I did was grow more desperate not to leave them behind. Leah and I went to the beach every single day, without fail. As she put it, I was going to need my tan to last through the year. The whole, long, cold year up north. Sometimes it was like she was trying to convince me to stay, but since I had no control over it, all it did was make me dread my impending departure more.

When it rained, we just moped and looked out the windows for a while before watching something obsess-worthy for the rest of the day.

The days were shorter than ever in those three months. My legs felt leaner and tanner, and my shorts shorter and more frayed. My friends were funnier and more exuberant than ever before. The boys were cuter, the neighbors more neighborly, and my home was cozier. No one argued, no one was snappish; everything was perfect.

But then the summer wound to a close, like all good things eventually do. Though you'd never know it from looking outside, where it was still sunny and warm.

My mother took me shopping for things with long sleeves—and I learned that these make my wrists feel strangled—boots, which make my feet hot, and a good coat, which made me feel panicky and claustrophobic. I said goodbye to all of my friends, knowing it wouldn't be the same next time I saw them. I gave Jasper the biggest hug, soothed my distressed sister with a bag of Pirate's Booty popcorn (her favorite for some reason) and the promise that I'd be home soon, thanked my parents again for the surprise, and trudged onto a plane for New Hampshire. Now here I was hours later, passing by neighborhoods with big old Victorian-style homes, trying to forget about palm trees and mango salsa. I pushed thoughts of football on the beach at night and the ability to actually leave school at the end of the day from my mind.

I knew I would be okay. I always was. I wasn't going to feel nostalgic forever. I wasn't going to hate everything just because it was unfamiliar. It'd be tough to jump into a new life, but that was okay. It was my last year of high school anyway. What did I have to lose?

I could be anyone I wanted to be now. I could adopt an accent—I'd always been ace at mocking my mother. I could become a slut maybe. I could be carefree and exciting..

A small, irritating voice in my head told me that I wouldn't be any of those things. I'd lose confidence as soon as I stepped off this bus, and that was just a fact.

The neighborhoods that passed by the windows died away, and we turned onto a long, narrow, gravel road. A road like a hallway, packed with cabs, cars and other buses, with walls of tall green trees on either side of us and reaching up to the clouds. We inched our way up for fifteen minutes, and then I finally saw the actual boarding school for the first time in real life.


It truly took my breath away the second it unveiled itself to me. The building was old, enormous, and I could just barely see in the waning daylight that it was covered in thick ivy. Lively golden glows poured from its shuttered windows. Surrounding all this were jade lawns and a wrought-iron fence. Lamps illuminated bustling, shadowy figures in the roundabout, all unloading luggage and heading down the long path of brick that led to the building.

The campus had always been striking in the pictures I saw, but to see it in person made me feel like I was in the presence of some omniscient queen.

We filed off of the bus, and cold air hit my thighs. I had been freezing for the entire ride from the airport until I figured out how to direct the stream of air they call a fan away from me. Everyone around me was wearing long jeans, scarves, Lacoste polos, and sweaters. My Jax Beach Lifeguard sweatshirt (a real one, not a touristy one), frayed jean shorts and Rainbow flip-flops looked so out of place. I'd been sure it couldn't be that cold here.

I'd spent my life in Southern states. I'd never even seen snow in real life.

"Oh, you'll see a lot of that," Dad had said.

"Hush, Daddy. Tell me there'll be unseasonably warm weather this year," I'd replied.

I also had brought the most stuff out of anybody I'd ridden in with. I'd gotten a lot of looks throughout the ride, and I assumed that was why, although that annoying part of me felt kind of sure I had a big embarrassing something somewhere on me. According to the snotty girl sitting in front of me—who seemed intent on informing me without speaking directly to me—everyone always leaves their things in their rooms over the summer. Still, weren't there freshmen and transfers? Why was it so weird I should have a year's worth of things before living somewhere for a year?


I turned and saw a guy with a flashlight and a notepad. "Yes?"

"Do you need to check in some luggage?"

"Check in?"

"There's only a service elevator, so we just take it up for you."

His practiced tone told me that he'd had to explain this many times.

"Oh." I smiled. "Okay, great. I was wondering how I was going to bring it all in." I gave a small laugh, and he smiled politely back at me.

"Write down your student ID number and room number here, please." He handed me a clipboard. I filled out the indicated lines, referencing the letter I'd gotten over the summer for both, and handed it back. "Thanks, it should be up there soon."

He slapped stickers on my things, and another guy put them into a cart. I followed everyone else up the walkway toward the school, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. I would not be intimidated by this place. I refused. I ignored that little voice in my head again.

As I walked down the path, I remembered when I was thirteen and looking at pictures of Manderley. I'd imagined myself prancing down this very path full of optimism, maybe already with a brand-new friend acquired on the ride in, ready to have an adventure.

I felt a little silly thinking about it, but something in me still had a flicker of that same excitement.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 24 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 4, 2012

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    I found this book to be very disappointing. I saw the lovely cov

    I found this book to be very disappointing. I saw the lovely cover and then the description sparked my interest immediately, but then I couldn't get into the book at all. The heroine (whose name you don't learn until the end of the book) comes to this fancy school and is immediately ostracized by her fellow students because she is replacing Becca, the girl that everyone loved. And it makes everything harder when she starts to fall for the boy that everyone thinks was tragically in love with Becca. But was he really?

    The mystery of the story intrigued me, but the more it unfolded the more disgusted I became. I liked 'New Girl' well enough, and mostly I pitied Max and Johnny (though I really wanted to smack them upside the head). I couldn't understand Becca at all and couldn't help but cringe whenever the story switched to her. She made such a mess of her life and the lives around her in her selfish quest for her twisted version of love. I could feel sorry for her, but I couldn't like her.

    I really hated the use of sex in this book. If you ever want an argument for why teenagers should remain celibate, just read this. Sex was used as a weapon and a tool, leaving you feeling dirty and disappointed in all of the characters.

    My favorite part of the book was the end. Not only did it mean that the book was over, but the resolution was very good. Everything that had needed to be explained was explained, and you are left with the possibility of happiness.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Awesome read!!

    New Girl is a relative retelling of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier; I'm calling it relative because if you've read Rebecca you'll know the plots of the two novels are deceptively similar while soundly different in many aspects. I'll begin by saying some of the charm and suspense of this read comes exactly from the Rebecca reference and parallel, the similarity/difference aspect of the plots makes New Girl an even more suspenseful read, because I was constantly thinking, ok, so Max (Maxim in Rebecca) and Becca (short for Rebecca - here the connection is quite clear :D) - a retelling or a parallel universe? Everything was more intense because of it, I was completely on edge about Max from start till end. I also came into the read with a considerable negative attitude toward him, and though it didn't do the character Max any favor, it did a lot for the quality of the reading experience, it heightened my interest and emotional involvement. The New Girl storyteller female character, the MC (main character), also thanks to the Rebecca reference, gave me these conflicting feelings, and just like my feelings towards Max, they settled some only when I reached the end of the book. For a few reasons though, the female MC was more endearing then the one in Rebecca, I liked her more perhaps because of her young age and light heart, she kept giving me this suave, sunny feeling more towards the beginning of the novel, and her transition from warm climate to a dreary one both on a personal and environmental level was interesting to follow. Dana was also an interesting character, she stood out from the habitual bleah herd of look-alike fans of the popular thing; where the herd was grating on my nerves (they've always done so and will most likely always will - insert dramatic eye-roll & sigh), and her obsession for Becca gradually brought the punch to an already intriguing turn of events in the plot, her character revealing to be an incredibly conflicted and somewhat twisted one - a great delight. Her unraveling, so well portrayed and extroverted in its nature, puts the MC's inner struggles and introverted tensions in the spotlight by contrast, they make a really interesting couple of characters. The ending is an apparently happy one, I mean the novel ends on a positive note (at least there's no burning buildings, lol); is it a happy ending in a traditional sense? Hard to say, there isn't a clear ending in fact, it's quite open I'd say. Though some future events seem to be hinted, they could or could not take place and both versions might be just as likely. Will Max and the MC (not giving you her name, it's part of the charm) become a real item, or will they move on after graduating and become nothing more then a memory for each other? I personally like to think they move on, just because Max is not exactly relationship material if you ask me. He doesn't seem to really learn a lot from his experiences (he put up with Becca'c antics for waaaaaay to long if you ask me) and instead of evolving he's the sticky-type more like. But hey, to each their own right? Read it, totally worth your time!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2013

    Loved it!

    I loved this book! I think there should be a second one! I re-read it all the time!:) I need to know what happens to Callie and Max! lol

    *I know it drives me crazy when there isnt a second book and I have to make it up lol.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This year a new girl is attending Manderley Academy. And she to

    This year a new girl is attending Manderley Academy. And she took Becca's place. Becca who was friends with everybody. Becca who was perfect. Becca who is gone now.
    There are chapters alternating between our new girl and Becca’s point of view.
    Set at boarding school, I was looking forward to a lively setting with a bunch of fun and individual characters. But the characters weren’t as I imagined them to be. Our protagonist who is known as the new girl at Manderley is welcomed by prejudiced and withdrawn people who have to constantly compare her to Becca. And I found myself growing irritated by the permanent references to the perfect girl who disappeared one year ago. So our new girl doesn’t really have a chance to be herself, people started defining her before she even arrived.
    The love stories of Becca and the new girl aren't ordinary and solely romantic, they are bringing lots and lots of drama, intrigues and lies to the story. Becca is very different from the new girl who is only interested in one boy, Max. His and new girl’s relationship was one of my favourite parts of the story. Although Becca went missing over one year ago the story is mostly about her relationships and friends that the new girl picked up. It’s interesting to see how both girls started their lives at boarding school differently and how they define their relationships.

    4/5 **** NEW GIRL - A cleverly constructed, lulling psychological drama.

    The uncertainty about Becca Normandy's whereabouts, the strange behaviour of other students towards our protagonist and otherworldly occurrences play with the reader's imagination. This whole story is very mysterious and scary and I caught myself developing the wildest theories about who the new girl really was and what it was about her connection to Becca.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 29, 2012

    3.5...... Also known as a retelling of the classic novel, Rebecc

    Also known as a retelling of the classic novel, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. New Girl is another modern day retelling of a classic tale. Although I haven't read Rebecca yet, I have it on my bookshelf... sitting... waiting...

    The mystery starts straight away, pulling us into the mystery surrounding Becca's disappearance, as well as finding out how much she changed the school. We see when we are in Becca's point of view how the school was. Strict, quiet, no rules being broken. But then as Becca shows up, we can see how much she has changed it into like most modern day schools, parties, boys, hook-ups, rule breaking. Becca brings all of this with her. We see when we get into the New Girl's point of view, how different everything and everyone is.

    The change in point of view is a big issue for me in this novel. When changing P.O.V.'s, we are given an indication as to when we are with Becca, but we don't have anything to tell us we are back in the present day, until we get a third of the way through the chapter. Half of the time we are guessng whos P.O.V. we are in. From this, we don't connect to the characters as we could and as we should.

    Even as we go further into the novel, we start to realize that every chapter switches P.O.V. Then we come across half-way through the novel that now, the New Girl is two chapters long.

    We constantly see the New Girl's struggle throughout the book, to stay true to herself and not succumb to what everyone is saying she is doing the things that they tell her to do, for the sake that Becca will come back. She is a strong character, no matter what Dana and the others throw at her, she picks herself up and fights (in her own way).

    Is it just me, or does the whole novel not feel like a whole year, that we find out is as the whole time the New Girl has been at the school Time flys when having fun, yet was it really all that fun.

    I love when Harbison has done in the sense that we don't even know the protagonists name, only as 'New Girl'. This gets us pulled into the world more because when we realize we don't know her name, we stop and try think back in the novel incase we forgot it, yet we only come up with Becca's name. Still brewing with the fact that Becca is always there, never to be forgotten, never to leave our thoughts. Also, forgetting the New Girl's name in the novel brings forth that Becca is the one to focus on and the one that is important. We do get told her name though, which brings out it's own meaning.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A good quick read

    I was drawn to this book mainly because I had read one of Ms. Harbison's books before so I thought I would see what "New Girl" was like. I liked haw different chapters were from the point of view of the two main female characters, Rebecca (Becca) and the girl everyone was calling 'New Girl' until the very last chapter where we learn her actual name. At times it read like a very typical boarding school novel, illicit alcohol use and sex all over. What kept me going was hearing how the two girls were alike in some ways. New Girl was just trying to fit in someplace that used to be ruled by Becca, and Becca was just trying too hard to be the wild child. I was shocked that Becca had not only lost her virginity within the first few days of being there, she went on to be with others in rapid succession. Callie(New Girl) was never really given much of a chance with her roommate Dana being all weird about her things and keeping it like a shrine, and having to deal with everyone thinking Becca would be right back to classes.
    If you want a mystery that has alot of twists and suspense, this is the book for you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2014


    Gtgtb. Im falling asleep

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2014


    Cali, boook.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2014



    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2013


    Loved this story!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2012

    ave you ever been accused of trying to replace someone? Callie

    ave you ever been accused of trying to replace someone? Callie has left her Florida home for a boarding school in New Hampshire her senior year of high school. Since the day she arrived at Manderley Academy, girls have been accusing her of trying to replace a student who disappeared the year before. Rebecca, Becca, Normandy had been the “it girl” of the school. She dated the hottest guy, was beautiful, and could be friend anyone. Unfortunately, Becca was not a very nice person. She was manipulative, cruel, and sough the spotlight at any cost. Could someone have forced Becca to disappear? The two girls are foils of each other. Callie has nothing to do with Becca, but Callie cannot escape Becca’s shadow, no one will let her. When Callie is approached by Becca’s ex-boyfriend, Callie’s life at Manderley goes from bad to worse.
    Switching between Callie and Becca’s points of view makes the story much more interesting and allows the reader a look into Becca’s mind, explaining her motivation for the things she did. This book is a good mystery and would be perfect for an audience of teen girls. I give four and a half out of five stars because the book could be a little slow in places; Callie was a fantastic character though.

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  • Posted May 8, 2012

    The most exciting part of New Girl and probably what inspired me

    The most exciting part of New Girl and probably what inspired me to finish the book was the fact that I wanted to know what had happened to Becca. I was never as taken with her as the students of Manderly Academy, of course as the reader we are privy to some of her inner thoughts and let's just say....she is not a very nice person, at all. That didn't stop me from wanting to know how she disappeared though.

    Other than that I wasn't overly impressed with this book. I had a hard time connecting with pretty much all of these characters because I just didn't "get" them. They were mean and snotty and not at all like the teens I knew in high school or the ones that I now know. I couldn't figure out what their motives were for their actions. My favorite character was "new girl" as she was the most real character in the whole book. I didn't notice until the last page that we never got "new girls" name until then, I still don't know how that escaped my attention while I was reading. The only other character that made any kind of impression on me was the principal and he is only in one scene but he was pretty darn awesome! The rest of the characters were shallow and really just for the most part awful people. I didn't even really enjoy the love interests because I thought "new girl" deserved better than both of the boys that seemed interested in her. This was definitely just an OK book for me. I have a feeling it will be one of those that I forget about pretty quickly.

    Just so you know: This book talks a lot about "hooking up" and contains a lot of scenes with underage drinking.

    If you know me at all you know I hate writing reviews that don't favor a book. However, when I agree to review a book I always state that I will give my honest opinion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    Must Read

    This book was very intersting. It kept me reading for hours! Great for a teenager who wants a romance,mystery, and just a very entertaining read!

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  • Posted March 30, 2012

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    The book had an intriguing synopsis, but did not live up my expe

    The book had an intriguing synopsis, but did not live up my expectations. This is a re-telling of the book Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, but I have not read it so I can't make any comparisons. Unfortunately, this was the first book in a long time that I was not able to finish. I liked the premise and characters well enough, but the plot and pacing of book killed it for me. The plot revolves around teen parties and love interests ...that's as far as it expanded to. It felt like a back and forth battle between these to incidents and it got old really quick. This may appeal to some readers, but it just wasn't a good fit for me at all.

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  • Posted March 10, 2012

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    I can’t think of a single reason to like this book and I&r

    I can’t think of a single reason to like this book and I’m surprised I finished it. The characters were flat and vapid; I found myself loathing every single one of them. The most interesting character, Dana, was so incredibly unstable, she was annoying and whiny. The new girl, whose name we don’t learn until the very end of the book, felt so inconsequential that I actually don’t remember her name now. I like strong characters, or at least characters who grow through a novel, but the new girl just complained a lot that people at Manderley didn’t like her. Grow some backbone! The other interesting character, besides Dana, was Becca, whom the new girl replaced because she had gone missing. But she was only interesting because of her circumstance and the horrifying way she conducted herself around others (we do get to find out why later).
    There is a love triangle in this, so if you hate them, don’t read it. Personally, I don’t mind them at all, but in New Girl, I felt that it was weak, and when there was conflict, it was put there to keep things interesting.
    The plot point for Rebecca would have been alright, except that it dragged out and if you’ve ever read the book that New Girl is retelling, incidentally titled Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, then you can kind of guess how New Girl is going to end. Ergo, no surprises here, folks. Bummer.
    No author can really avoid pop-culture references in their books, and I love them when they are done right because it helps the reader identify with the book. But the one big one in New Girl that really stood out to me was “Paint me like one of your French girls” from the movie, Titanic. The line should be “I want you to draw me like one of your French girls.” Yes, it’s a nit-picky detail, but part of a book’s value is in the details, right? In Titanic, Jack was too poor to have any paints, therefore he used charcoal and paper. So this really bothered me.
    I also had a really big problem with the filler in this story: teens were drinking and carrying on all the time on school property. I mean, ALL. THE. TIME. There was tons of language about sex, BJs and getting drunk. I felt like it glorified this lifestyle. Hey, I’m no prude, but come on now. If you are going to include something like this in your story, at least trump it with a message for the kids reading your book. That didn’t happen here. I get it, this isn’t the bible and for god’s sake, it’s just a book, right? But what was the take-away from all that? I couldn’t figure it out.
    I think if the author had spent time fleshing out the characters and staying true to her genre (this is a young adult, after all), it could have gone a lot differently. I really liked the synopsis, which is why I asked to review the book. But overall, I didn’t like it and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I did, however, love Harbison's writing style - it's very fluid and beautiful. So while I didn't like this story, it doesn't mean I won't look for other work she does. She's obviously very talented.
    I received this copy for review from the publisher.

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  • Posted February 21, 2012

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    A Great Teen Mystery

    So, our New Girl comes to Manderly Academy for her senior year. Because space is limited, she takes a spot that recently opened up due to the mysterious disappearance of a student named Becca. The New Girl has all of the elements of your basic fish-out-of-water story: she feels awkward and not sure what to do, people are snotty to her and the hottest two boys in school are sending smoldering glances her way (natch).

    Her roommate is a psycho who worshipped Becca (no bonding anytime soon here...) Also, apparently Becca's parents couldn't be bothered to clean out her side of the room and New Girl sleeps under a wall of smiling Beccas beaming down upon her. Her peers and love-interests are constantly comparing her to Becca. Putting New Girl (her name isn't revealed until the end of the story as a nod to the source material) in the position of having to always prove that she is not Becca. How annoying for her...

    The New Girl has elements of teen sex and partying and I wouldn't recommend to to people who are sensitive to reading about such things. These elements did make me wonder what kind of crazy prep school this was because the kids went out every night and barely had to hide it. Which is fine, but your typical high schooler doesn't usually have the liberty the throw down every night of the week. Now college...that's a different story.

    This story comes with a twist, though. Becca was a notorious party girl and her disappearance is a mystery that consumes the entire school. I loved trying figure out who-done-it and trying to discern the truth from rumours.

    Harbison has crafted a fast-paced, suspenseful thriller (based on Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier) that was a pleasure to devour.

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  • Posted February 19, 2012

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    Perfect for those who like to be kept in suspense

    What is with the growing popularity of books that go bump in the night? new girl follows this dark vein as we follow New Girl into a new school where the queen bee Becca rules with an iron fist despite the fact that she has vanished into thin air. Paige Harbison expertly builds the tension slowly but surely as it dances around the question of Becca’s current whereabouts – not to mention, New Girl’s actual name. If I had to describe new girl using other books, I would probably say it is a chimera of here lies bridget, choker, and all those “new girl at boarding school and rooms with the weird girl” stories. All the jealousies, heartaches, and spine tinglies will help to suck readers into new girl as the story behind Becca’s disappearance resurfaces and threatens to pull New Girl into dangerous waters.

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  • Posted February 15, 2012

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    Just okay...

    I went back and forth on this one. At times it was very good--an engrossing, suspenseful read. At other times it got a bit confusing and disjointed--I actually had to go back more than once to make sure I hadn't skipped a page or two because with what was going on I seemed to have missed a step (I hadn't, not any of the times). Ultimately it was a fairly entertaining read, but definitely not one I'll be revisiting.

    Unlike some of the other reviewers, I did realize ahead of time that it was a remake of Rebecca--that's a big part of why I read it. I'd read the original a loooong time before (mostly because of the name--though no one thought to tell me ahead of time that the character who the book was named after was 1) dead and 2) a controlling, manipulative, not-nice person--thanks, mom! ;-)) so I had a vague idea prior to reading it what was probably going to happen. According to my (admittedly not perfect) recall, it did follow the story fairly well, and the modern changes for the most part made sense. There were times during the reading of it when I couldn't put it down and thought perhaps it would earn a four-star rating at least. In the end, though, there were some specific things about this book that put it firmly in the three-star category for me.

    First, I couldn't get past the fact that New Girl's parents (that part was pretty clever, the fact that readers don't know her name for most of the book, and it's so well done that you don't even notice for quite a bit of it!) would be so totally and utterly clueless as to think that a girl who years before wanted to go to a private boarding school a la Harry Potter would honestly be thrilled about leaving her current school and friends her senior year to do so--especially one who is popular and well liked. Seriously, who could possibly be that uninformed as to the mind of a teenager?

    Secondly, although I adjusted to the back-and-forth POV of New Girl in the present and Becca in the past (though that was a bit of an adjustment, especially at first) it feels at times like overkill--can't we discover what kind of a person she is through others, as in the du Maurier version? Then, towards the end, the author suddenly pinballs wildly between many POVs, not just the two that we heard from in the rest of the book. Readers are left feeling that surely there could have been a better way to present the information, one more in keeping with the rest of the novel. There's also a paranormal-ish twist to the novel that just ended falling a bit flat and feeling out of place.

    On the positive side, the creepy roommate was a nice update of Mrs. Danvers in the original, and seeing things from Becca's viewpoint did succeed in making us understand her a bit better in the end, and make readers more sympathetic and understanding of her than for her literary predecessor. New Girl too, for the most part is a stronger person than the second Mrs. de Winters, which was nice to see.

    Max, though, comes off as a shallower person, and their love story is much less convincing than in the original. Overall, I wasn't sorry I read this book, but it didn't quite meet my expectations.

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  • Posted February 8, 2012

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    Intriguing Storyline!

    I have to say I was definitely intrigued by the storyline for this book. I had heard that it was a re-write of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, a book that I have wanted to read for a while now, so I was looking forward to checking this out.

    The story starts off with the main character, the New Girl, starting off in a new private school; Manderly Academy. Miles away from her family and friends, but looking forward to a fresh start, the New Girl goes to the school not knowing that she’s falling in the previous New Girl, Becca Normandy’s shadow. Becca’s disappearance is the only reason the New Girl even has a spot at the school, but New Girl is not Becca, and everyone is quick to let her know this.

    I found most of the characters of the book to be pretty unlikeable, and I wonder if this is how the author wanted us to feel for them. I really disliked the way they all treated the New Girl. I do like that the New Girl was pretty headstrong, for the most part, and in the end just didn’t care what people thought about her. I always find that admirable in a female character. I found Becca to be just a horrible person all around; I didn’t care for her at all. The love interest in the story, Max, was a bit wishy-washy for me, although I did grow towards him a little more towards the end of the book.

    The thing that stood out the most about this book was the mystery that surrounded the storyline. This definitely kept me hooked while reading the book, because I just wanted to know what happened with the mysterious Becca. It was also a little disconcerting to go throughout the whole book not knowing what the main characters name was. We do finally find out at the end of the book what it is, and it’s such a pretty name, that I wish it had been used more in the book. However, I enjoyed the suspense of waiting to see if the name would ever be revealed.
    This book also has a lot of sexual related content. Some of it was very disturbing, and some of it I was a bit surprised to see in a YA novel. There were also mentions of drug and alcohol use. I found this to be very realistic, and it’s definitely something I could see happening in a private boarding school. Due to these mentions, I wouldn’t recommend this for the younger YA crowd.

    Overall, this was a really different read for me, full of teenage drama and turmoil. Although most of the characters were unlikeable, I liked the main character, and the mysterious storyline kept me intrigued. This book also really makes me want to pick up Rebecca by du Maurier right away!

    Happy Reading!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2012


    I absolutely loved it. Anyone who has ever felt like they were trapped under someones shadow can relate. A great followup from her first novel. I highly reccomend this book.

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