Private (Private Series #1)

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Overview

Tradition, Honor, Excellence...and secrets so dark they're almost invisible

Fifteen-year-old Reed Brennan wins a scholarship to Easton Academy — the golden ticket away from her pill-popping mother and run-of-the-mill suburban life. But when she arrives on the beautiful, tradition-steeped campus of Easton, everyone is just a bit more sophisticated, a bit more gorgeous, and a lot wealthier than she ever thought possible. Reed realizes that even though she has been accepted to ...

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Private (Private Series #1)

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Overview

Tradition, Honor, Excellence...and secrets so dark they're almost invisible

Fifteen-year-old Reed Brennan wins a scholarship to Easton Academy — the golden ticket away from her pill-popping mother and run-of-the-mill suburban life. But when she arrives on the beautiful, tradition-steeped campus of Easton, everyone is just a bit more sophisticated, a bit more gorgeous, and a lot wealthier than she ever thought possible. Reed realizes that even though she has been accepted to Easton, Easton has not accepted her. She feels like she's on the outside, looking in.

Until she meets the Billings Girls.

They are the most beautiful, intelligent, and intensely confident girls on campus. And they know it. They hold all the power in a world where power is fleeting but means everything. Reed vows to do whatever it takes to be accepted into their inner circle.

Reed uses every part of herself — the good, the bad, the beautiful — to get closer to the Billings Girls. She quickly discovers that inside their secret parties and mountains of attitude, hanging in their designer clothing-packed closets the Billings Girls have skeletons. And they'll do anything to keep their secrets private.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In the lexicon of boarding schools, there is a difference between "getting accepted" and "being accepted." At prestigious Easton Academy, Reed Brennan learns that crucial distinction in the most personal way. After a painful initiation, she scents triumph when her brains and good looks gain her admission to exclusive Billings Hall; but before long, she realizes that beneath all the Prada and Gucci and Juicy Couture, the Billings girls are hiding some very dark secrets.
Publishers Weekly
When Reed leaves her troubled Pennsylvania home and begins posh Easton Academy as a scholarship student, she immediately attracts the attention of cute senior Thomas Pearson. She also quickly comes to the attention of the popular Billings Girls, who can be nice, mean or indifferent towards her, depending on the day. Reed puts up with their behavior knowing that if she "could just enter that inner sanctum, every door at Easton would open up to me." Keeping up academically proves a challenge, but Reed also faces other tests, such as stealing an exam for the Billings Girls or figuring out why they warn her about her now-boyfriend, Thomas, who has his own connections to their circle. The set-up seems scripted and the Billings Girls themselves are stereotypical (Noelle is the Alpha girl, Taylor is the brain, etc.), but Reed is more complex than most of this genre's narrators. She has an abusive mother "who likes pills with her bourbon," and admits that her connection to Thomas, the son of alcoholics, is partly due to finding "someone who understood." Of course, when Thomas accuses her of using him to get to the Billings Girls, he is somewhat right about that, too. The conclusion leaves plenty of questions including where Thomas has disappeared to. Readers will no doubt eagerly await the next installment in Brian's (The Virginity Club) Private series, Invitation Only, due out this fall. Ages 14-up. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The one thing that Reed Brennan wants most in the world is to get away from her drug addicted mother. She gets that chance when she is offered a half scholarship at a private school in Easton, Connecticut. Easton is everything she dreams it could be, offering her every opportunity to make her life better. On her first night there, instead of joining with the other girls living on her floor, she stays alone in her room and watches a group of girls greet each other in the dorm next door. After that night, Reed's greatest ambition is to join the Billings Girls. Unfortunately, girls assigned to the Billings dorm are the best scholars and athletes, neither of which applies to Reed. Instead of working on her grades and becoming socialized in the school, Reed allows the Billings Girls to bully and intimidate her into doing what they want her to do. Each time the Billings Girls ask her to do something for them, no matter how wrong it is, Reed caves to their demands. It is obvious that Reed knows that what they are asking her to do is wrong, and each time it seems as if she will do the right thing, but she never stands up to them. The novel is a very easy read, broken up into small chapters that allow the quick pace to carry the reader through. It is very disappointing how Reed squanders each opportunity to become a strong person and instead becomes the worst sort of teenager. Hopefully, a sequel will show Reed becoming a stronger person who is not controlled by the popular crowd. 2006, Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster, Ages 13 to 16.
—Danielle Williams
KLIATT
Fifteen-year-old Reed Brennan manages to earn a scholarship to Easton Academy, a posh co-ed boarding school where the motto is "Tradition, Honor, Excellence." There she hopes to finally escape her pill-popping mom and oh-so-boring suburban life. But blind desperation to fit in and to be invited to the secret parties of the super-cool and confident Billings Girls reduces Reed to their slave as she carries out their orders without fully understanding her role in their schemes. A flirtation with ultimate cool guy Thomas Pearson culminates in sex, yet Reed remains clueless as to who he really is and why the Billings Girls snub him. Are the Billings Girls Reed's friends or her foes? The slightly surreal ending leaves readers with as many questions as answers about these shadowy characters. But, despite its flaws, girls who enjoyed Brian's The Virginity Club and her other novels will love the sheer drama and mystery of it all. KLIATT Codes: S--Recommended for senior high school students. 2006, Simon & Schuster, 227p., $8.99.. Ages 15 to 18.
—Jessica Swaim
VOYA
Reed Brennan escapes her pill-dependent, alcoholic mother during her sophomore year by entering an elite private school where the well-to-do students have experiences and own things that she could never afford. Although she was an outstanding student in her public high school, she feels unprepared academically and has problems with her new teachers. She wants to fit in with the legendary Billings Girls, an ultra-elite group that controls much of the social and academic lives of everyone on campus but is not very nice to others in the process. Reed does not deal with the reasons she left home, and when she does not allow her parents to visit for parents' weekend, they acquiesce. She wants to be a Billings Girl, so she does whatever dirty tasks they want her to do-break up with boyfriends, buy food in the lunch line, steal copies of tests-and she becomes a Billings Girl. She wants to date Thomas, and she does, having sex and then considering breaking up with him because he is a drug dealer. The book ends with a candlelight ceremony for the Billings girls with the issues of Reed's parents, boyfriend, and roommate still unresolved. A tinge of evil is associated with the Billings Girls, reminiscent of Lauren Myracle's Rhymes with Witches (Amulet Books/Harry N. Abrams, 2005/VOYA August 2005). The plot is engaging even though many of the problems are solved too easily, have no consequences for the decisions Reed makes, or are left unsolved. Even with these faults, it will be a popular book for teen girls. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P J S (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Simon Pulse/S & S,240p., Trade pb. Ages 12 to 18.
—Cindy Faughnan
VOYA - Jane Chen
This book was extremely shallow. Although the story had "good moral" potential, the entire plot was about a superficial girl who tries to climb the social ladder at her new boarding school. Reed uses everything and anything to try to "get in" with the Billings Girls, the most popular girls in school. In addition to the lack of respect that Reed has for herself, the ending had holes that left big gaps and unanswered questions.
VOYA - Ava Donaldson
Private is full of typical mean-girl clique initiation rituals but lacks any reasoning that might be behind them. The main character, Reed, is the only one with any morals, and even she tends to ignore them, striving instead to become part of the infamous A-List group of girls who hold the real power in the student body. It is a melodramatic, pink novel with an entertaining story line but no real feeling.
VOYA - Cindy Faughnan
Reed Brennan escapes her pill-dependent, alcoholic mother during her sophomore year by entering an elite private school where the well-to-do students have experiences and own things that she could never afford. Although she was an outstanding student in her public high school, she feels unprepared academically and has problems with her new teachers. She wants to fit in with the legendary Billings Girls, an ultra-elite group that controls much of the social and academic lives of everyone on campus but is not very nice to others in the process. Reed does not deal with the reasons she left home, and when she does not allow her parents to visit for parents' weekend, they acquiesce. She wants to be a Billings Girl, so she does whatever dirty tasks they want her to do-break up with boyfriends, buy food in the lunch line, steal copies of tests-and she becomes a Billings Girl. She wants to date Thomas, and she does, having sex and then considering breaking up with him because he is a drug dealer. The book ends with a candlelight ceremony for the Billings girls with the issues of Reed's parents, boyfriend, and roommate still unresolved. A tinge of evil is associated with the Billings Girls, reminiscent of Lauren Myracle's Rhymes with Witches (Amulet Books/Harry N. Abrams, 2005/VOYA August 2005). The plot is engaging even though many of the problems are solved too easily, have no consequences for the decisions Reed makes, or are left unsolved. Even with these faults, it will be a popular book for teen girls.
Vicki Sherbert
Reed Brennan has won a scholarship to Easton Academy. She has dreamed of this moment when she can escape her gray, suburban life and her alcoholic, prescription drug dependent mother. When her kind, good-hearted father drives their dented Subaru onto the manicured campus, Reed has a moment of misgiving. But seeing this as her only hope, she puts on a brave face and says good-bye. This is the story of a young girl's attempt to escape her painful world and find her place in a privileged one. As Reed tries to break into the inner circle of the most elite group on campus, she finds she must choose between the new love in her life and the hope of becoming one of the Billings Girls. Better suited to high school readers, this first book in a series left me in complete suspense about the choices Reed will make, the disappearance of her boyfriend, and the ceremony that could change her life. Reading the sequel is a must!
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Reed Brennan is nervous as she begins her sophomore year as a transfer student at prestigious Easton Academy. All of the other students are richer than she could ever believe, and she immediately finds that she's in way over her head academically. She determines that she'll do anything to keep from flunking out and going back to her dreary home. Reed aspires to be just like the beautiful and brilliant girls who live in the luxurious Billings dorm, but she has little hope of ever being accepted into that elite crowd. Somehow, though, she edges in and barely notices their cruelty because she's so grateful to be tossed the crumbs of their kindness. Although her experiences could have resulted in nine months of insight, the teen doesn't seem to make much progress in understanding herself or the larger world around her. The story has major gaps in plot development and background. Too many elements are left hanging or unexplained, such as why Reed can't empathize at all with her mother's pain-killer addiction following a long-ago accident, her lack of a relationship with her brother, her oddly unemotional loss of virginity, and any sort of character development in the Billings girls. Readers might feel as if they've missed the first 10 minutes of a 30-minute TV show, and the ending is choppy and unsatisfying. Steer readers to Brian's earlier (and better-written) titles.-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"The characters are addictive and Campbell's telling makes it even more fun." —-School Library Journal Audio Review
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—The first book (2009) in Kate Brian's popular chick-lit series introduces 15-year-old Reed Brennan who earns a scholarship to the prominent Easton Academy. While she sees this as a way to leave behind her small town and her increasingly distant and pill-addicted mother, she is nervous about leaving her father and how she will fit in with the wealthy students. Reed finds her way, awkwardly becoming friends with the girls (collectively known as the Billings Girls for the name of their dorm) who wield the most power and lands the hottest guy on campus, Thomas Pearson. Cassandra Campbell's distinctive voicing draws listeners into the melodrama surrounding each of the characters as Reed discovers how to relate to their beauty, intellect, and confidence. In Invitation Only (2009, both S & S), Reed is one of the Billings Girls, almost, having moved into their dorm and going through a hazing of sorts as the dorm's "Cinderella." The school is also bustling with news that Thomas has gone missing, Reed finds herself reluctantly attached to the most prominent boy on campus and uses him to get an invite to the most talked about and exclusive party because she is sure Thomas will show up there. The characters are addictive and Campbell's telling makes it even more fun. There are some minor sound inconsistencies, but listeners already drawn into the drama will hardly notice. With much for chick-lit fans to enjoy, libraries that circulate the print versions will want to have these audiobooks as well.—Stephanie A. Squicciarini, Fairport Public Library, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416918738
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/27/2006
  • Series: Kate Brian's Private Series , #1
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 225,602
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Brian is the author of the NY Times and USA Today best-selling Private series and it's spin-off series, Privilege. She has also written many other books for teens including Sweet 16 and Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys.

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Read an Excerpt

The Girl in the Window

That night, since there was nothing to study for yet, quiet hours were suspended so that each floor could have a little get-to-know-you party. I was never good at parties, so I was kind of dreading it, even though I knew I should just go. If I wanted a new start, I was going to have to go against instinct, which meant being social. The very idea gave me cramps, though, so I avoided thinking about it and flipped through my Easton Handbook on my bed while Constance got ready. And talked.

"So when we finally got to the bottom of the mountain, I was totally dehydrated and had this streak of mud all the way up my side and this guide was waiting for us there and he was like, 'Did you not see the trail?' and we were like, 'What trail?'"

I smirked because I could feel her looking at me and it sounded like the point in the story where she would expect some kind of reaction.

"Anyway, are you ready?"

The moment of truth. I put the book down. "Maybe I'll come down later." I honestly didn't know until that moment that I wasn't going to go. But I didn't take it back.

"Want to make an entrance, huh?" she joked.

Not remotely.

"Something like that," I said.

"Okay," she said with a shrug. "But don't blame me if all the good pizza's gone!"

I'll live.

"Don't worry about it," I said.

As soon as the door was closed I felt really bad for bailing. What was wrong with me? There was no way I was ever going to make friends if I sat alone in my room. I knew this. But still, somehow, I couldn't make myself move.

I sighed and leaned back against the denim pillow my brother had bought me at Target, settling into my self-imposed exile. So this was my new home. This square, cream-colored box with its creaky wooden floor, standard issue twin beds, matching desks, and five-drawer dressers, one of which I couldn't even fill. Within five seconds of seeing my half-empty side of the huge closet, Constance had asked, "Do you mind?" and then promptly jammed up the empty space with three extra wool coats and a puffy black parka. It all contributed to my feeling that I didn't fit or, more accurately, that there wasn't enough of me to fill a place like this.

I heard laughter outside the window and stood up. The large bay window with a sill big enough to sit on was, hands down, the best feature of our room. Earlier, Constance had gone out to meet some of our floor-mates and had come back beaming, happy to report that only two rooms had a window like this and we were beyond lucky to get one. I sat down on the sill and stared out the last window pane. Another peal of laughter rang somewhere out in the darkness and my heart ached. What the hell was I doing here? How could I possibly have thought this would be a good idea?

Leaning my temple against the glass, I willed myself not to cry. This was unbelievable. Was I really homesick? For what? For my pins-and-needles home life? For the cinderblock halls of my old high school? For the strip malls? My mind flashed on my father and on Adam, who had never been anything but sweet to me. I saw my dog, Hershey, wagging his tail when my dad got home, expecting to see me as well. I saw the ugly flowered wallpaper my parents had hung in my bedroom before they knew I was a tomboy, wallpaper I had always hated but which now felt like the perfect emblem of home. I thought of the lacrosse team and our vow to actually get to the state championships this year. Why did all of this suddenly seem so huge? The day before I couldn't wait to get out of there.

A tear squeezed out and it was like a wake-up call. No. This was not acceptable. I was not a weakling. I had made my choice. I was not going to call my father and beg him to come back for me. There was nothing in Croton for me. Nothing worth sticking around for, anyway. I knew this. I just had to focus on it. I stared into the darkness, at the lights in the windows of the other dorms, and told myself that I belonged here. I forced myself to try to believe it.

I will be happy here. I will make friends. This is the beginning of a whole new life.

And that was when I saw her. A girl, sitting in a window just like mine, directly across the way. She was wispy and thin with delicate features, smooth pale skin, and light blond hair that fell in loose waves around her tiny shoulders. She looked almost ethereal, like she could float away at any moment with the help of a light breeze. She wore a white tank top and short pajama shorts and seemed riveted on the pages of the book she held in the crook between her bent legs and her flat stomach. I was so riveted by her that I didn't notice anything moving in her room until another girl swooped in out of nowhere and snatched the book out of her hands. I sat up straight, startled, thinking for a split second that the girl had been threatened. But then I saw the taller, darker girl twirl the reader into the room and onto the bed. There she joined two others who sat, laughing, their bare legs splayed out as they ate from a box of chocolates.

I turned fully toward the window now, crossing my legs Indian style in front of me and balancing precariously on the windowsill. Then the lights across the way were doused and my breath caught. Moments later, a flicker of light. Then another. Then another. Gradually the room started to glow and the figure of the dark-haired girl loomed through the dancing shadows as she lit candle after candle. Soon the four girls were bathed in the warm light. One of them rose and handed out glasses. Large, round glasses with delicate stems. Each was already filled with deep red liquid.

Wine. They were drinking wine right there in their dorm. Laughing and chatting and sipping in the candlelight.

In my entire life, I had never seen anything like these girls. They seemed so much older, and not just older than me — which they obviously were — but too old to be in high school. Every move they made was graceful and sure. The held their glasses with carefree assuredness as if they drank from such delicate crystal each and every day.

This girl, the laugher, had piled her brown hair on top of her head in a messy bun, held there by a pair of chopsticks. She was stunningly beautiful, with dark, tan skin and a lithe, athletic figure. She flashed a knowing smile, which she prefaced by a narrow, sliding glance at her friends. She wore a red silk robe over a tank top and boxers and seemed to live to tease. The second girl was petite, with messy, dark blond curls and cheeks like a porcelain doll. She was playful with the others and seemed younger than them, shoving and rolling her eyes and clapping when she laughed. But it was the reader and the dark-haired girl I couldn't tear my eyes from.

The dark-haired girl wore nothing but black underwear and a large silk nightshirt, undoubtedly made for a man, with only the two center buttons done. She shook her thick hair back, took a sip of her wine, and held the novel up to read from it to her friends, gesturing dramatically with her glass, but never spilling so much as a drop. All three of them gathered together, rapt with attention at the girl's performance, and I thought, This girl is the leader. As she continued to read, she placed her glass down and lifted the ethereal girl's arm. The girl stood on cue, a slight, far-off smile playing about her lips. The dark-haired girl thrust their hands above her head and the bottom of her shirt fell open, exposing a long, red scar along her stomach, just above her hipbone. I was so startled by this garish imperfection on such a flawless being that I almost looked away. But then she stepped breast-to-breast with her friend and the scar was covered and I realized they were dancing. They moved as one, twirling through the shadows and the flickering candlelight. The little cherub reached for her sound dock and acoustic guitar music echoed through the quad, sending a shiver down my spine.

The ethereal girl spun out of her friend's arms toward the window and suddenly she froze. My heart caught, startled at her abruptness, but it took me a good long moment to realize she was staring right at me. I had mistaken her gaze as flighty and un-focused, but I saw now that it was the exact opposite. She looked right through me, around me, all over me, taking in everything and turning me inside out. Embarrassed, I looked quickly away, pretending to be preoccupied by something in the room, but it was no use. I had to look back. When I did, she was holding her curtains wide with both hands, still staring.

I was breathless. I was caught. But I couldn't look away. Would she tell her friends? Would she report me? Could I get kicked out of Easton for spying? I stared back, willing her to be kind. Willing her not to tell. For a long moment, neither one of us moved.

Then she smiled, ever so slightly, and snatched the curtains closed.

Copyright © 2006 by Alloy Entertainment and Kieran Viola

The Billings Girls

"Billings House? That's an upperclassmen-only house. And even if you're a junior or senior, you have to meet certain requirements to get in."

"Requirements?"

"Academic, athletic, service. If you meet their requirements, you get an invitation from housing at the end of the year. It's very selective. You have to be an integral part of the Easton community to live there."

Her expression said, "You will never live there."

I had just met Missy Thurber five minutes before and already I felt like choking her. She was the piglike girl who had snickered about the no-boys rule at yesterday's meeting. She had highlighted blond hair that she wore back in a French braid and a nose that turned up so far at the end that you could almost see into her nostrils. You'd think that a girl with a nose like that wouldn't have the guts to be so superior, but she managed to look down it at everyone she saw. She also held her shoulders so far back when she walked it was as if she wanted her large breasts to enter any room a good fifteen seconds ahead of her. Ridiculous. I would never have even bothered talking to her if Constance hadn't told me both her parents and all her siblings had attended Easton and that she knew everything there was to know about the school. I had looked up the dorm behind mine in the catalog, but other than its name, Billings, there was no information. All the other dorms read "Bradwell, sophomore girls' housing" or "Harden, junior and senior boys' only." Billings just said "Billings House."

"At the end of the year, we should apply. We should all apply," Constance said in her enthusiastic way as we walked out of the breakfast line and into the Easton cafeteria with our trays of fruit and toast. "I bet we would totally get in," Constance added to me alone.

The Easton cafeteria was a cavernous room with a domed ceiling that terminated in a small, cut-glass skylight that danced slivers of sun on the tables and chairs below. Unlike Croton High, the furniture here was not made of standard-issue plastic and metal, but real, solid wood. Cane-backed chairs were set up alongside tables with thick legs, and all surfaces shone as if they had been freshly waxed. On the walls were paintings that evoked various facets of life in historical New England. Farmhouses, covered bridges, skaters on a frozen pond. All very quaint and old-fashioned. All almost funny when juxtaposed against the kid with the MP3 player who was executing a sleeper hold on some other guy in an effort to commandeer his portable game system. Or the girls swapping summer piercing horror stories, lifting their shirts and sticking out their tongues to display their war wounds.

Near the front of the room was a large table with slightly more ornate detailing. Several teachers sat there with their food, talking in low tones or reading from newspapers. A couple of older gentlemen sat back with their arms crossed over their chests, scanning the room as they spoke to one another, eager to pounce if someone stepped out of line.

"You don't apply. They invite you," Missy said again, rolling her eyes. "How did she even get in here?" she said, not so quietly, to Lorna, the mousy girl on her other side. Lorna had small features overpowered by bushy brown eyebrows and the kinkiest brown hair I had ever seen. She hadn't said much so far, but she hadn't left Missy's side all morning, so I had a feeling I didn't like her.

"Nice attitude," I said.

Missy scoffed and took a seat at the end of a table, forcing the rest of us to squeeze between her and the chair behind her to get in.

"Whatever. The point is, not just anyone can get into Billings. You have to be...special," Missy said as she prissily opened up her napkin and laid it across her lap.

"And it's like once you live there, you're golden," Lorna added. "They all get good grades — "

"Even if your grades sucked before. Go figure," Diana Waters, another girl from our floor, interjected. She was a pixie-ish girl with short blond hair and clear braces. "Plus every captain of every team and every president of every club lives there — "

"They're achievers," Missy said. "Women who lived in Billings have gone on to be senators, movie stars, news anchors, novelists."

"And college? Forget about it," Diana said. "They get recommendations from all the Billings alumnae and every single one of them ends up at an Ivy. Every single one."

"You're kidding," I said.

"I shit you not," Diana said. "Their track record is blemish-free."

"Yes, it is," Missy said as she spread some low-fat cream cheese on her bagel. "I can't wait until next year. To have one of those huge rooms? The cages they have us in now have got to be a human rights violation."

"What makes you think you're going to live there? I thought you had to be invited," I said pointedly.

"I will be. I'm a legacy," Missy said. Like, duh. "Both my mother and my sister lived in Billings."

Okay. Now I hated her even more. The fact that someone like that could just have something like Billings handed to her just illustrated everything that was wrong with the world.

"Which basically means they have to take her," Lorna added with a laugh.

Nice. Maybe Lorna didn't entirely suck.

Missy shot her a look that made her go instantly pale. "Not that you wouldn't get in anyway," Lorna added quickly.

"Check it out," Diana said, lifting her chin. "Speak of the devils."

I looked up and there they were, striding two-by-two toward a table in the very center of the cafeteria. Leading the pack was the girl with the dark hair and the scar that was now hidden somewhere underneath a pristine white linen blazer and black T-shirt. I flushed just thinking about it, knowing it was there when she had no idea that I knew. She was tall — even taller than my five nine from the looks of her — and, I couldn't help noticing, in flat shoes. She spoke to the ethereal girl, who walked next to her with her head tipped toward her friend, but with that far-off expression in her eyes.

Behind them was the sly girl, whose light brown hair was again up in a messy bun. She led with her hips as she walked, her back straight and her chin up. A gawky brunette boy stared at her as she passed him by and she winked at him surreptitiously. He turned a deep, disturbing shade of purple before sliding down in his seat and hiding behind his manga book. The girl laughed to herself, triumphant.

With her was the cherub, whose blond curls bounced as she scurried after her friends. She was the only one of the four who walked with her head down, her pale skin blotched with pink from some kind of exertion, pleasure, or embarrassment. She hugged her books to her chest and seemed to be concentrating hard on something going on in her head.

They really were here. They really did exist.

"I would kill to be Noelle Lange," Diana said, leaning her chin on her hand.

"Yeah. That's gonna happen," Missy said sarcastically.

"Which one's Noelle?" Constance asked.

"White blazer," Lorna said, envy dripping from her very lips. "Rumor has it that Harvard, Cornell, and Yale are all fighting for her."

"Please. She'll go wherever Dash McCafferty goes," Missy said, glancing over.

I saw that the big, blond guy who caught my punt yesterday was now sitting on a table behind Noelle, rubbing her shoulders with his huge hands. She titled her head back, her long tresses tumbling down behind her, and he leaned down for a kiss.

"More like he'll go wherever she goes," Diana said. "I highly doubt Dash wears the pants in that relationship."

"When Noelle's in the room, she's pretty much the only one wearing pants," Lorna added.

"That's true. I take it back," Missy said.

"Who's the reader?" I asked, noticing that ethereal girl once again had her nose stuck in a book.

"That's Ariana Osgood," Missy said. "Her family owns half the South. Which means the rest of the Billings Girls forgive her for being from the South."

Diana, Constance, and Lorna all snickered.

"They're in oil," Missy added. "All big, cigar-chomping, bane-of-the-environmentalists types. God only knows how they produced her."

"She's a poet," Diana explained. "She writes half the literary magazine every quarter. She's really good."

"The model is Kiran Hayes," Lorna said. "She's done Abercrombie, Ralph Lauren..."

"Omigod! Yes! She was on the billboard outside my Pilates studio!" Constance exclaimed.

"Omigod! Keep your voice down, you freak!" Missy shot back, mimicking her.

"Wait. She's an actual model?" I asked.

"What? Like you've never seen one in the flesh before?" Missy said. "Half the girls in my building back home have done the spring shows."

I glanced around and noticed that at least half the male population of the room was in fact watching Kiran, most of them practically drooling.

"And then there's Taylor Bell," Diana said. "From all accounts, the smartest girl ever to step foot on the Easton campus."

Across the way, the cherubic girl laughed and had to slap her hand over her mouth to keep from spitting out her oatmeal. Didn't look like a genius to me, but then again, I'd never seen one of those in the flesh either.

"Best schools. Hottest boyfriends," Diana said. "Yeah. Being a Billings Girl definitely wouldn't suck."

I stared across the room at the four girls and the guys who hovered around them, my pulse racing with a new sense of excitement. A few more girls sat down at the other end of their table, every last one of them beautiful and poised, though to me they seemed second-string compared to the four girls I had seen the night before.

"What about the others?" I asked.

"Eh, they're in Billings too," Diana said with a wave of her fork.

So I was right. It was Noelle and her friends who were important. Noelle and her friends who were the most worth knowing.

My heart pounded against my rib cage and I pressed my sweaty palm into the thigh of my jeans. I had never wanted anything as much as I wanted to be at that table right then. If I could just enter that inner sanctum, every door at Easton would open up to me.

I would never have to worry about being accepted or fitting in. I would be leaving my own crappy, depressing home life so far behind maybe i could manage to forget it altogether.

Copyright © 2006 by Alloy Entertainment and Kieran Viola

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 371 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 373 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Not just another chick flick novel..

    When I first bought Private I expected another chick flick novel, just like Gossip Girl or the A-List, books I have previously read. As I started reading I found out it was more like a Cinderella story, the main character played by small town girl Reed Brennan, and the evil stepsisters by glamorous Noelle, Kiran, Taylor, and Arianna, a.k.a, Billings Girls. As I dug deeper into the book, I realized I couldn't stop reading and was intrigued by the mysterious air surrounding the infamous Billings Girls, Thomas Pearson, and all the other fascinating students that fill the hallways of Easton Academy. While the plot advances, so does the suspense, leaving you hanging with each turn of a page. That suspense doesn't end with the book. Kate Brian does a wonderful job of keeping the reader hooked, waiting for the next book to come out. (Here I have to make a footnote and point out what could be the series only flaw: the time between the coming out of books is too long.) This is because as soon as a problem is about to be solved, a new one arises, giving a new twist to the story. As I finished reading the first book of the series, I was proven wrong about my first thought; this book is not another chick flick. It is the perfect recipe for a good, relaxing book, mixing a little chick flick with a little mystery.

    The characters of a novel obviously play a key part on making a book worth reading, and this one is no exception. The author gives each character at least one unique characteristic, whether physical or in their personality, that make them easy to identify since we are first introduced to them. Unlike other books, I didn't have to go back to check who someone mentioned earlier was. Something else I found Kate Brian did an awesome job on was giving the students of Easton, who are spoiled, snobbish kids, intelligence. In contrast to other books of the genre, being intelligent and school is a priority for the characters. I found this important since teenagers read this book and often see a role model in the characters. Just like Kate Brian gives a good example, she touches what could be seen as controversial subjects. Sex, drugs, and violence are present in the plot. While some parents and adults might be shocked that their kids are reading this, the author is actually portraying the reality that goes on in high school today. If you are looking for a break of complex novels, this one is the perfect remedy, maintaining high quality and a suspense that will keep you wanting to know more.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    I LOVED IT!

    I've been reading this entire series ever since they came out. From page one, I fell in love with Reed and the Billings girls. I just finished book #8 and the prequel about Ariana. I have to tell you, I have not yet been disappointed. Every single book brings a new intensity to the series. I've shared them with many friends and they share it with others and by now, almost EVERY girl in my school is hooked. I, being an aspiring highschool author, hope one day I can write on her level. My parents thought it was just yet another teen novel, but it's more. It teaches you to be careful with who you trust, important traits of friendship and so much more. When a new book comes out, I curl up in a ball in my bed or on my couch and finish that same day. They are that intense and they just draw you in. If you read the first book, I promise you, you'll be hooked. Enjoy the life of a Billings girl!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Tedious, Unenjoyable Book

    Private by Kate Brian was not an enjoyable read. In fact it was a tedious book that was a pain to finish. I was disappointed with this one because I have usually enjoyed Kate Brian's novels: the lighthearted, humorous chick lit young adult books. I would advise not reading Private: it is boring and at times downright ridiculous.

    My main problem with this book was its protaganist and narrator, Reed Brennan. Never have I read about such an annoying, self-absorbed girl who makes the stupidest decisions and the worst possible friends. Reed gets into the Connecticut boarding school Easton Academy on scholarship and is eager to escape her suburban life and abusive mother. Life at boarding school is not what she expected however: her teachers are harsh and while she was a straight A student at her former school she is barely keeping from failing here. It all changes when Reed sees the Billings Girls, a clique who belongs to the coolest dorm of upperclassmen girls who have the good grades, athletic ability, and the hottest boyfriends. Reed is determined to fit in with these girls because she thinks they will magically change her life for the better.

    Reed's character becomes dangerously obsessed with this quartet of girls, to the point of becoming creepily voyeuristic. She is shamefully subserviant towards these older girls and even breaks numerous school rules to please them. Reed is quick to make judgements and stereotype her peers even when she herself has no social skills! Reed also has an unhealthy obsession (and later relationship) with senior Thomas Pearson, who is campus's official bad boy. In short, Reed has no redeeming qualities and her narration of the story basically ruins any of it's potential for being good. I think her character would be diagnosed with several mental health problems in the real world. I could not sympathize or pity Reed because of her stupidity and her bad behavior that got her into numerous bad situations. By the end of the book I wanted to throttle her.

    The only thing Private had going for it was its minimal sprinkling of suspense. The end was cliffhanger that left many unanswered questions that are tantalizing, but not tantalizing enough to get me to suffer through another awful book to find out what happens. Buying this book would be a waste of your money and reading it would be a waste of your time. If you want to read a good Kate Brian book, try her earlier fare, like The Princess and the Pauper and Lucky T.

    4 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Private, A Great Read

    I thought Private was an awesome book. It was so good, I read the whole book in a matter of hours. It was very exciting for such a real plot. I'm normally into fictional books with lots of action that could never happen in the real world but this book really held my attention. At first, I dreaded having to read this book for my book club but in the end, I wanted to finish the series. Overall, I'd say it was an awesome book and good for re-evaluating yourself. (Sorry for any misspellings)

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    oh yes

    okay so whom ever said read last christmas first..DONT LISTEN!! half the part of reading them in ORDER is to have the wonder and such as you read them. if you read last christmas first it spoils the rest. DONT LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE THAT TELL YOU TO NOT READ THEM IN ORDER. THE AUTHOR WROTE THEM THE WAY SHE INTEDED THEM TO BE READ. THAT EVER CROSS YOUR MIND?!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    OMG

    This is one of my fave books in the world!!!!!! It's sooooo good, if you haven't read it you have to. I've already read all the books so I'm waiting for Paradise Lost to come out on February 24!!!!! Every book ends in some sort of tragedy which leaves you wanting more and more..... It is soooo good.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Private Review

    I just finished the uber-catty book Private by Kate Brian and let me tell you it's a page turner. Not only will you find yourself hooked but you might want to throw the book at the wall from time to time. You might be thinking I should have just put the book down but a book that makes you feel emotions is a book worth reading. If you are a fan of Gossip Girls the tv show you will love this book.

    Reed Brennan arrives at Easton Academy her sophomore year as a scholarship kid. She is not great at making friends and wants to change that. On her first night in her dorm she spots a group of girls in the building across from her. Reed is instantly drawn to them, but little does she know they are the Billings Girls, the most popular girls in school. When they notice she is staring at them they give her the nick name "glass-licker". You would think this would be enough to make Reed run in the other direction but instead it makes her want to belong even more.

    Like most things the Billings Girls aren't all perfect and hide plenty of secrets not only from each other but from the entire school. Noelle Lange is the leader of the girls she is super poised and not to be crossed. Ariana Osgood is always reading and mostly the quiet one. She is the first to speak to Reed and invites her to breakfast. Kiran Hayes is the model but has a relationship with someone the Billings Girls would not approve of. Taylor Bell is the final member who is super smart and helps Reed keep up with her school work.

    As the book goes on I feel like Reed really looses herself and even gives her virginity to Thomas a guy she met on her first day at Easton Academy. Reed does anything the Billings Girls ask from getting their food to stealing an exam. Thomas isn't a fan of the Billing Girls and wants her to choose the Billing Girls or him. In the end I don't think either is the right choice for her.

    I found the book to be a quick read and will continue reading the series. I warn you this book is not for everyone and would not recommend it for young teens. Never the less if you are looking for a fun read I suggest you pick this series up.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2012

    I loved this book! I recommend it to everyone! I started reading

    I loved this book! I recommend it to everyone! I started reading it and couldn't put it down!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2012

    LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!

    Anyone who likes intriguing books that pull you in will love this book

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2012

    Loved it

    I watched the tv show and it is great it is not just about some mean girls there is a plot which makes it interesting

    U

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2009

    Great series!!

    This is the best series that I have ever started to read. I first found this book one by my best friend and two by just knowing a good book when I see one. If you're looking for a good book/series to take to school or work or to a party or just to read anywhere I'd pick this one. As soon as I picked this book up I could never put is down. Then at the end of the book I just had to find out what happend next in the next book. So buy this book to see what I'm talking about!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    i'm not sure...

    this book was pretty boring. there are a few parts that are good but they don't last very long and i thought that this bok just wasn't as good as everyone says. maybe i have to read the rest of the series to see whats so amazing about them but this first book just doesn't make me want to keep reading.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    love it (:

    this is one of my favorite series at the moment! (the review is for the whole series..) beware of spoilers!<BR/><BR/>Reed attends the prestigious Easton Academy where the students are known for their smarts and style. She finds herself falling into the life of something bigger than she can control- murder, drugs, sex, and deception. her boyfriend, Thomas, turns out to be a drug dealer and Ariana just wanted her in Billings so she could get rid of her. Ariana, Noelle, and Kiran are expelled for 'assisting' in Ariana's murder of Thomas. but the truth is that Ariana killed Thomas by herself, no strings attatched. after they have spent their time in juvie, Kiran returns to modeling and Noelle returns to Billings... and there has been a new death at school. Cheyenne, the old president of Billings, offed herself when she recieved the news that she would be expelled. Reed soon gets an email-after Cheyenne's murd.., uh, death-saying that Cheyenne blames her for her suicide. Reed ignores it and gets a new email account. she is elected the new president and her and her roomie, Sabine, start bonding. Just as Reed thinks the drama is over.. she cheats on her new bf, Josh, at the Legacy with Noelle's (maybe ex?), Dash, a Harvard student. Josh finds out when he comes back to apoligize and he declares that they are over. Noelle kicks her out of Billings and Reed loses her title as Billings president. worst of all? Ivy, Josh's new love interest, is her new next-door neighbor at Pemberly... and Reed thinks Ivy is Cheyenne's murderer. Turns out Sabine is Arianna's sister and she is just as crazy-and Cheyenne's murderer. Sabine pulls a gun on Reed and Josh tries to stop her.. but the bullet hits Ivy instead. So far, that's all that has happened. the series is continued with a spin-off series of Ariana breaking out of juvie and 'starting over' with her life by killing a rich heiress and attending a new school with new friends..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    almost a true story

    I think this book shows some of the problems lots of girls face, even if they don't go to such a prestigious school. This book is very somewhat scandalous. It takes you from a poor Reed to a popular Reed, and her journey inbetween. The author makes each character a unique person with a different personality. One minute they're extraordinatily nice, and the next they're super mean. You never know who to trust. I really liked this book and can't wait to finish the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    everyone has to read this series!!

    these books have the best ending and always wants you wanting more!!<BR/>they are unbelieveable books!!<BR/>bests books i have ever read!!!<BR/>Kate Brian is one of my fav. authers!!<BR/><BR/>if you havent read this book YOU NEED TO!!!<BR/>u will LOVE it!!!<BR/><BR/>i have read the whole series so far im just waiting for Paradise Lost!!!<BR/><BR/>ohhhhh....and for the people that dont know theres a series that fallows this series called Privilege it fallows Ariana Osgood so it should be REALLY good!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    The book is amazing

    Private is a book that you can't set down. You get so into it that it all seems real. When you read it, it's like you really there and its happening. Theres times you just want to be the main charater or any charater. Its sad, happy, and you get mad about what there doing in the book and you just want to tell them what to. Once you finish it, you probably better start the second right away because the suspense just kills you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 14, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for TeensReadToo.com

    Reed's first glimpse at Easton Academy is enough to make her panic. What if she doesn't belong here? She's worked so hard to get into this school and get away from home, but is she good enough to even be here? She stumbles out of the car and bumps into a cute boy--and school suddenly looks slightly better. Not to mention that her determination kicks in. <BR/><BR/>However, nothing is easy at this new school. Work starts demanding attention and her advisor is watching closely for any indication that she might not be up to the Academy's standards. Reed's roommate talks all the time, and hanging with her could be social suicide. Then Reed meets the Billings Girls, and suddenly she wants to be one of them more than anything--but what is she willing to do to achieve that same social status? <BR/><BR/>Similar to THE IT GIRL novels, Kate Brian spins a fast-paced darker story where Reed is way over her head. The calculating Billings Girls leave you wanting to uncover their deep secrets. Now that Reed has made it into the popular and powerful crowd, where will INVITATION ONLY take her?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2008

    Private

    Private, by Kate Brian, is not a novel I would see myself reading for no reason, but I once I started to read it, I felt as if I was actually in the story. The way Kate Brian portrayed the characters was outstanding and unique. Reed Brennan is a sophmore who has just recieved a scholarship to Easton Academy, an elite private high school. She is happy to escape from her past, but more troubles await her when she tranfers over. When Reed arrives, she wants to fit in as quick as possible, so she finds herself trying to tag-along with the Billings Girls. The Billings Girls have the most prestigious lives, clothes, hair, make-up, and just about anything else they want. Eventually, Reed gets noticed by Ariana Osgood, the book-lover of the group, who late confers with Noelle Lange, the leader, and suddenly it seems as if she is being accepted into their lives, or so she thought. Next comes Thomas Pearson, Reed's amazing boyfriend. He and Reed face some problems along the way, but that is to expect when you are failing almost all of your classes. Soon after, Reed must choose between her beloved boyfriend and the Billings Girls. Will it be love and fate, or everything she had ever wanted?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2008

    A World of Intrigue

    Reed Brennan¿s scholarship to Easton Academy is her ticket out of Croton, Pennsylvania, where everything is ordinary and boring, and where her pill-popping mom resides. To outsider Reed, Easton Academy is both sophisticated and intimidating, and it¿s obvious that Reed doesn¿t fit in, but she refuses admit defeat and go home. And then she meets the Billings Girls, the most powerful, beautiful, smart, and successful girls on campus ¿ not to mention elite. These girls are envied by every other girl in the school, especially Reed, who vows to be accepted into their inner sanctum. But her crusade for acceptance isn¿t going to be easy, and any slipup on Reed¿s part may put Billings out of her reach forever. At first glance, the Private series may appear to be just another lame story about over-spoiled girls and their exploits. However, I found Private to be much better than that. The plot is rich with suspense and intrigue as Reed navigates the socially dangerous territory at Easton, but what really separates Private from other Gossip Girl knockoffs, is that Reed actually has a conscience she¿s not so ruthless as that she would do anything to get what she wants, and that¿s very refreshing. The private boarding school setting may seem overused, but it¿s really the perfect place for this story. I really liked how there was always an element of danger to the story, whether it was being caught outside after hours or a secret on the verge of being spilled. Private and the subsequent books its series are sure to thrill readers with their drama, secrets, and peek into the private lives of the young and elite. Strangely, though Private is the first book in its series, it¿s the last one I¿ve read due to a bookstore mix-up when I first began reading this series (I started with the second book). I definitely recommend Private as well as the other books in the series as an intriguing and dramatic read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2008

    GREAT BOOK

    This book is great i am deffinatley not the biggest reader but this book i couldnt put down it is sooo good. It has susspence and i never want to put it down i finish these books in one night but a tip is for the 2nd book and on DONT READ THE BACK it gave away ALMOST the whole 2nd book for mee because i read the back of the third book i read only the first sentance but dont read the back its bad. kayy well deffinatly great book i think you should get it 100%

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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