The Mean Girl Apologies

The Mean Girl Apologies

4.2 6
by Stephanie Monahan

A new adult novel from Entangled's Embrace imprint...

You know that catchy song you keep hearing on the radio? It's about you.
Natalie Jamison has spent five years trying to forget the girl she was in high school: popular, pretty…and, okay, mean. Now in her twenties and living once again in her small town, she's right back

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A new adult novel from Entangled's Embrace imprint...

You know that catchy song you keep hearing on the radio? It's about you.
Natalie Jamison has spent five years trying to forget the girl she was in high school: popular, pretty…and, okay, mean. Now in her twenties and living once again in her small town, she's right back where she was: following Queen Bee Amber and keeping secrets from her best friend, Sarah.

Secrets like Jack Moreland.

Everyone knows Jack Moreland—his new album, Good Enough, is everywhere. He's famous. Impossibly handsome. Completely untouchable. But what none of Natalie's old clique knows is that in high school, Natalie and Jack fell in love. And their secret relationship was incredible, painful—and earth-shattering enough to inspire an entire album.

Facing friends and enemies isn't easy, but Natalie will go to great lengths to prove she is good enough—to her friends, to herself, and most of all, to the small-town boy turned worldwide heartthrob she never forgot.

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Entangled Publishing, LLC
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Entangled Embrace
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The Mean Girl Apologies

By Stephanie Monahan, Stacy Abrams

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2014 Stephanie Monahan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62266-303-3


I was in the middle of lying to my best friend when I heard the song.

We'd just gotten to the bridal shop, and Amber was checking us in for our fitting. Lori got distracted by a display of glittery headpieces, and Sarah and I wandered over to the window.

Outside, tourist season was upon us. Couples held hands and browsed the antique shop, groups of girls carrying giant-sized iced coffees walked down the street, laughing. Normally, you could get from one side of Stonebury to the other in about ten minutes. From June to August, it could take forty.

"Aren't you so excited to be back?" Sarah asked. She leaned into me, putting her arm around my shoulders and squeezing.

"Yeah," I said.

That was the lie.

And that was when I heard the song.

I didn't immediately recognize the voice as his. It was smoother than I remembered, all the gritty edges rounded out. But something about it made me stop and listen. Something familiar.

I'd caught the end of it, the chorus repeating and fading. I couldn't make out much of the words, just the catchy melody. It was a really, really good song.

The DJ came on next. "Thanks for listening to Sunny 101.5, Stonebury's station for all the hits! That was Stonebury's own Jack Moreland! Class of 2009. It's about time we had a local celebrity, don't you think? Coming up next, your traffic and weather report!"

Sarah turned to me, surprised. "Um, Natalie? Did they say Jack Moreland?"

So she'd heard it, too. This wasn't some sort of incredibly vivid dream. "Yeah. I — I think so."

"He graduated with us!"

I nodded, because I didn't trust myself to speak.

"This is crazy! Lori — did you hear that?"

Lori wandered over, her eyes growing wider as Sarah told her about the song. "I can't believe I didn't know about this," she said, pissed. Lori prided herself on knowing more about you than you did.

"What's going on?" Amber asked, and the story of the song started again. Was I acting naturally? Could they tell that my legs had gone rubbery, that I was in danger of falling into the tiara display?

Apparently not, because they went on talking like Jack was just some kid we used to know, which, I guess for them, was true. "Remember?" Lori was saying, while Amber looked puzzled. "The kid with the flannel shirts? He carried his guitar everywhere?"

Jack Moreland and his Traveling Guitar. That's what my friends had called him, a dumb nickname they thought was so funny.

"Hmm, I don't remember." Amber shrugged and flipped her braid to the other side. Then she smiled at me, rubbing her hands together. "All right, you're up first."

It was one of those foggy-headed moments when you know you're moving toward something, but not quite sure how you're moving, or how you're going to get there. Penny, the saleswoman who resembled an "after" photo in an advertisement for Botox, had me by the elbow. She led me into the depths of the store and into a tiny dressing room. This was the moment I'd been dreading all morning, being back in this exact room. In high school, I'd stood in the same claustrophobic space, trying on my prom gown. Prom. I'd been trying to forget about it for five years.

It'd been hard not to think about it all these years and was completely impossible now. Strangely fitting that Jack's song had been playing moments before. Almost like he was reminding me that even though time had passed, he still existed out there in the world.

"Come on out when you're done," Penny said. She closed the door, shutting me in.

It was hard to zip up a dress with shaky hands. I had nowhere to wipe my sweaty palms. The dressing room had mirrors on three of its walls, and so three of me stared back as I looked at myself in the dress. It was hideous — an overly ripe shade of yellow that completely washed out girls with pale skin and dark hair, like me.

I hesitated in the doorway, peeking around the corner to find my friends. "Oh, just come all the way out!" Amber called. She was standing with Lori and Sarah and Penny. All four of them were there, but I waited for only Amber's opinion.

After all these years, I still found myself craving her approval while simultaneously bracing myself for criticism. Maybe some things never changed, but I thought I had. Since I'd returned to my hometown, it'd been so easy to fall into the groove of our old relationship.

She was quiet for a second. "I think you look absolutely amazing!"


She nodded, and the others did, too.

"It fits perfectly," Penny said, coming closer to get a better look. "I think you're done." I was pretty sure she was smiling.

That was a relief. The last time we were here, a few weeks ago, the seamstress had stuck so many pins into the fabric, I didn't see how there could have been any left over. "You have a difficult shape," she'd told me, totally matter-of-factly and frowning. And you have a gift for tactfulness, I'd thought. I'd never had a problem filling out a dress. It took a long time before I'd stopped wishing to be perfectly straight up and down like my friends.

On the hanger the dress had resembled a banana, strapless and tapered at the top, then fanning out at the bottom. But it was surprisingly comfortable, as it should have been, considering the well-known name of the designer and the amount of money I'd had to drop on it.

Lori had already gotten her final fitting at the beginning of the week, which left only Sarah. While we waited, Lori called me over to the hats. "Take some pictures of me — I want to update my profile."

I could see Penny hovering as Lori weeded through the display. Lori looked exactly the same as she had five years ago — tiny, barely meeting my shoulders, with wavy blond hair and her signature hoop earrings that could fit around her wrists — and most of the hats made her look like she was dressing up in her mom's clothes. She liked a couple of them, though, and I texted the pictures to her.

"Want me to take yours now?" she asked.

"No, I'm good."

"Don't you know she's part vampire?" Amber said, placing a wide pink hat on her head and assessing herself in the mirror. She was one of those people who looked good in everything.

"I'm strictly a behind-the-camera type of girl," I said.

Sarah came out of the dressing room. "All right, what do you guys think?" she asked, twirling.

Penny clasped her hands to her chest and sighed. "I love it. I really do. It was a wonderful choice."

Amber stood beside her, tilting her head as she studied Sarah. "It's nice," she said finally. "Do you think it's too tight right here?" She touched Sarah's waist, where the fabric bunched the tiniest bit.

"I could get the seamstress," said Penny.

The tip of Sarah's nose had gone bright red. "This one attorney in the office always brings in Munchkins ..."

Penny had already disappeared around the corner. Sarah stood there, looking like she was going to cry. I was about to assure her that it was all right when Amber hooked her arm in mine and turned me around toward the shoes. "I wanted to tell you how much Peter loved the engagement pictures. Thank you so much."

"Oh, that's great."

She'd commissioned me to take the photos and, even after I told her not to, insisted on paying for them. I couldn't deny it was a win-win. I'd been trying to get some freelance business around town, but it was hard to do without much experience. And yeah, I needed the money.

"One other thing," she said. "I really want to pay for your shoes."

She was referring to the sparkly high heels the three of us would be wearing as part of the bridal party. We were supposed to be picking them up today, and I'd been preparing all week to hand over my debit card. The shoes were gorgeous, but I didn't believe in footwear that cost more than my rent. I'd made a passing comment to Sarah, who had agreed. Had she told Amber what I'd said?

"You really don't have to do that," I said.

"I want to. I know the past year wasn't the easiest for you ... I want to help."

I got this weird feeling, the way I did back in high school when she would give me the clothes and makeup she didn't want, usually with the price tags still attached, and then later ask me to do her homework. I wondered what I'd have to do to repay her.

But still, it was another offer that was hard to refuse. It was demoralizing being the one in the group who needed to take a handout. Amber, a senator's daughter about to marry a med student and someday be a doctor's wife, never had to worry about money. Sarah was in law school and clerked full-time, while Lori operated her family's salon and spa on Main Street. "All right," I said weakly. "Thanks."

Amber slipped her arm through mine again, the way she used to do when we walked together through the halls of Stonebury High. I hated how, even now, when she did things like this, it made me feel important.

We wandered over to a jewelry case. Amber commented on what she liked and didn't like, and I nodded and agreed with her without really listening. I couldn't stop thinking about hearing Jack Moreland's voice again, about high school. "Amber," I tried to say, but my mouth was dry and nothing came out. I cleared my throat, said her name again. She turned slightly toward me, still focused on the jewelry. "Do you ever think about high school? I mean, the way we were back then?" The things we did to people.

She flipped her hair over her shoulder, considering, then finally made eye contact. "Sometimes I wish I could go back."

I almost let out a sigh of relief. So it wasn't only me wishing I could change things. Maybe she'd grown up during the past five years, too. Maybe we could even be friends — real friends.

"I mean, we had the life." She shook her head. Smiling. "All we had to do was make good enough grades to keep our parents off our backs. The rest of it was clothes and parties and boys. Never had to pay any bills. Didn't have a care in the world. The best times of our lives."

Just like that, the weight that had started to lift came crashing back down, heavier than before. This whole thing felt all wrong. Being back here in this boutique on Main Street, the fact that I was a part of Amber's wedding at all when we hadn't talked since I left for college.

Sarah appeared, walking toward us from across the shop, and Amber leaned into me. "I really thought we wouldn't need any more alterations at this point," she whispered.

"I know," I said.

The response was automatic; my old habit of readily agreeing with her, it seemed, hadn't been broken. But I was no longer that person who tried so hard to please and appease. At least, I hadn't been for the past five years. But now that I was back, I felt my grip on myself slipping. Now that I was back, who was I?

Sarah was sheepish. "No one told me about the law school fifteen."

"It really didn't look bad," I said.

"There's only a month and a half to go. Just don't eat any more of those Munchkins, okay?" Amber laughed her husky laugh. She normally followed up one of her zingers with a laugh, so you were never really sure if she was kidding or not. God, the sound of it brought me right back to being seventeen. I could've been wearing my itchy polyester cheerleading uniform, wondering if anyone else noticed how badly I sucked at cheerleading.

Penny called Amber over to the register, leaving Sarah and me alone. "I can't believe it," she said under her breath. "I'm so embarrassed. Was she flipping out?"

"No, no. It was fine."

She gave me a look like she didn't believe me but let it go. We joined Lori by the hats, and I clicked some pictures of them posing together until Amber returned. She put her arm around me, and I did my best not to show how much I wanted to squirm away. "See you later for the big party!"

Amber was insisting on hosting a welcome home party for me, even though I didn't want it, even though I specifically asked not to have it. I'd been back for three months, and in that time, I'd seen some of my old friends around town, but Amber said that an event like this deserved an official celebration. She declared that she would host the party after she and Peter moved into the house they bought together, and tonight was the party.

It took tremendous effort to pull the muscles in my face into a smile, but I did my best to act carefree. "Can't wait," I said.

Sarah and I split from the group and walked back to the apartment we shared in Stonebury Heights. I was surprised upon my return to see how narrow the streets were, how the houses were so small and close together. Had it always been this way, or did everything look smaller now that I was older? Maybe it had something to do with being back in my hometown without my parents. They'd moved to Iowa, where my dad had been transferred my freshman year of college. During breaks from school, I'd always flown out there. Without them here, things felt different, as if I'd made up the first eighteen years of my life. A young family lived in our old Colonial, toys strewn all over the front yard, the lawn overgrown. It looked nothing like what I remembered.

Back at our apartment, we retreated to our separate bedrooms. As soon as I shut the door, I grabbed my laptop and sat on my bed. In the internet browser, I typed Jack Moreland.

It was a game I'd played with myself a couple of times over the years — Where is He Now? — but up until today, the only hits that came up were an animal trainer in Minneapolis and a guy who blogged about his home projects in upstate New York. This time, though, his name brought me directly to his website,

Home. News. About. Listen. And underneath, a picture.

When I'd known him, he had caramel-colored hair to his shoulders, a hoop through his eyebrow, a soft jaw, and long eyelashes. The eyelashes were the same. Everything else, though ... his hair was short, no piercings, his face thinner and angled. The guitar around his shoulder remained — the one thing I rarely saw him without.

Funny how you could get used to the absence of someone from your life. There were some days over the past half decade when I wondered if I'd made up his entire existence. But here he was, staring at me through my computer. I looked at the picture for a long time. There used to be an emptiness in my life where he once was, but I guess I'd learned to live with it. Now, though, the empty space began to hurt, an old wound reopened.

I clicked on News. Coming soon! was all it said. I moved on to About.

Jack Moreland grew up in a tiny seaside town in northeastern Massachusetts, but he now calls the bright lights of New York City his home. All his life, he has been singing and playing guitar. He wrote his first song at the age of six. His high school band, The Kerouacs, won several local awards, and it was during his time with the band that Jack began to branch out from performing mostly covers to writing his own material. As soon as the ink on his high school diploma had dried, he moved to New York City, where he played tiny clubs and bars, eventually forming a loyal following of dedicated fans. It was during a show at Kelly's Music Club in the East Village when he captured the attention of Mind's Eye label executive, Bruno Hayes. Haynes signed him on the spot, and Jack's debut album, Good Enough, was released one year to the day of that meeting.

Back on the homepage, I clicked on the last link, Listen. Click here to listen to Jack's smash hit, "Good Enough"!

I hesitated, my finger twitching for a second before I clicked. Soon, Jack's voice filled my sunlit apartment.

From the start I knew there was no going back
Jumping off cliffs had nothing on you
But it wasn't good enough
I told you the things no one else knew
About me
You told me you weren't the girl
All the others see
I thought you were different
I guess that's on me
And I wasn't good enough for you, no
Not good enough for you

I listened to it five more times.

I thought you were different. I guess that's on me, he sang. Once, he had said almost the exact same thing to me.

Slowly, I closed my laptop. It hurt to breathe. I backed away from my computer as if it had morphed into something that might hurt me.


Excerpted from The Mean Girl Apologies by Stephanie Monahan, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2014 Stephanie Monahan. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Stephanie Monahan received her degree in English Literature from Binghamton University. In addition to reading and writing, she is passionate about British pop music, the New York Giants, and her dog. Born and raised in upstate New York, Stephanie now lives in central Massachusetts with her husband. When she's not writing, she's most likely watching Modern Family reruns and/or thinking of excuses not to exercise. Her first book, 33 VALENTINES, was nominated for a 2013 Book of the Year award at Coffee Time Romance&More. You can find her online at

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The Mean Girl Apologies 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!! Great read.
bkpooja More than 1 year ago
Sometimes the song on the radio really is about you Natalie Jamison has spent 5 years of her life trying to forget the mean girl she was in high school.Now in her twenties,she is back to the place she had wished never to return,back to following Queen bee Amber and hanging out with her old high school group,even though she doesn't like most of them. Back is high school,Natalie was in the popular crowd being mean to everyone who is not popular just to fit in.Then she meets Jack Moreland and unexpectedly falls in love with him.Jack is not popular,so she decides to keep their relationship a secret to her friends. Now after 5 years,Jack is a a rock star-famous,impossibly handsome. When she realizes that Jacks new album "Good enough"  is about her,she decides to prove to him that she is good enough. I really liked reading this book.The story alternated between past and present i.e 5 years later.I felt conflicted about Natalie's character-during some parts I hated her and in the others i pitied her. I loved Jack.He's a really nice and sweet guy-ideal first love.Natalie didn't have to pretend and could act like herself around him.But i didn't like that he went along with the idea of keeping their relationship a secret. Gillian was the my favorite character in this book.She was a great friend to Natalie in the end. All in all, I enjoyed reading this book.It really does take you back to your high school days.
Anlenhart1 More than 1 year ago
This is a riff on the movie mean girls with a dash of romance thrown in. Natalie is the resident mean girl who has experienced a changed of heart. The story focuses on her relationship with Jack, her high school boyfriend whom she broke up with. He is now a successful musician whose hit album is focused on their break up. She realizes the errors of her ways and starts to make peace with her past.  The story set up was a little confusing with alternating chapters set in high school and the present, but I really enjoyed the supporting cast. Jack and Natalie's romance felt a little rushed, but over it was emotionally satisfying.
Bette313 More than 1 year ago
This is an incredible read!! Five years after high school graduation Natalie Jamison is in the last place she thought she would ever be. Living back in her hometown and once again dealing with the queen of high school Amber. Natalie is full of regrets after being one of the mean girls in high school but no regret is bigger than Jack Moreland! This story is the wonderful journey of Natalie finally coming into her own, facing all her regrets and deciding exactly the kind of person she wants to be. The story is written split between flashbacks to high school and now This is a book I put high on the recommended list. Low steam factor but high emotion.
Nicola_1202 More than 1 year ago
On the whole I enjoyed this but I admit I found it steady at times. If NA angst with frustration and heartfelt moments is what you are after, then this is that, although it is a little low on the romantic content and of you're expecting intimacy, it's closed door. But stir my emotions it did and I found myself wanting to punch our leading lady's friends, wanting to shake some sense into her (stick with me, I'm not really violent) whilst feeling for our couple.  So, the frustration. Natalie is a sheep. Some of her 'friends' are just awful; unlikeable, self-centred, shallow bullies who see someone being different as their god-given right to ridicule. And rather than being the better person and telling them to jog on, Natalie spends her teenage years, and to some degree her adult ones, lowering herself to their level. Jack Moreland was labelled as different. But when Natalie gets to know him away from her so-called friends, she discovers a wonderful young man who steals her heart. The old adage chicks before.... yeah you know the one, certainly shouldn't have applied (I would've kicked them to the kerb long ago) yet in a way it did and hearts were broken. 5 years on and Jack is a successful musician with people desperate to know where his writing inspiration comes from. Hearing the words, realisation hits Natalie and when their paths cross she is desperate to make amends. This is when the frustration started to dissipate and my heart went out to them both. Natalie is foolish but Jack is a wonderful man, true to himself and has fought for his dreams and it will take more than an apology to earn his forgiveness.  "All I wanted was for you to want to be with me more than you were scared of what your friends would think" Alternating between the past and the present, it gave a real insight into Natalie and Jack's relationship. That said, I would've liked more made of them reacquainting but they were a couple I wanted to find their way back to one another and although I was a touch disappointed by the lack of romance, it was still a good overall read and I'd happily read more from Stephanie Monahan.  I received a copy of this courtesy of Entangled Publishing via NetGalley for an honest & unbiased opinion 
jeanniezelos More than 1 year ago
The Mean Girl Apologies, Stephanie Monahan Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews I wasn't really sure what to expect here, the description was a bit vague, and as the book wasn't out when I had it for review I hadn't been able to read to see what sort of writing style Stephanie has. Anway, glad to say I really enjoyed this, it surprised me a lot. The book goes back and forth from current day when Natalie is stuck in her small, home town job, copy editing for the local newspaper, despite having grand ambitions, still following Amber and her entourage even though she didn't really like most of them, and back five years to the final year of school. Back then she was a mean girl, a bully and having a secret relationship with Jack, a beautiful romance but Jack was not part of the “in” group and she insisted they keep it secret. When we see her back then and her actions she really is cruel to some people, but via her inner thoughts we gradually learn just why she's like that. Now Jack's famous, with a hit album, Good Enough. The big hit, the one that gave the album it's title, is playing on the radio constantly, and only Natalie knows its really about her.....She's always regretted her actions to him at the end of their relationship, regretted putting false friends first and decides its time to put things right. And wow – her apologies are tough for her, cause tension with some people and a media storm when it comes to Jack. I loved the book, loved the way it showed how we look back with regrets sometimes, wish we could change the past. She's still in love with Jack, never stopped loving him, still following Amber and letting her dictate her life and actions and its time to grow up and make a stand. I felt for her after a while, though at first I didn't like her at all. Two faced, bullying, rude, one of the top crowds who ridule those on a lower rung, and though she loved Jack she ignored him in public, and treated him like a dirty secrtet. Away from the group though she's a different girl, and at work where she meets Jack that's the side he sees that no-one else does. Then we start to see why she's like she is, what happened in the past to her to make her this way, and how she became trapped in a cycle from which she daren't break's a really thoughtful look at bullies and bullying, and what lies behind obvious actions. I've always regretted some of my high school actions, I wasn't a bully but kept quiet when others were bullied. It was a fear reaction – my primary school years were dogged by both mental and physical bullying, I was scared every day and the fresh start at high school, away from my bullies, led to me just keeping my head down, keeping quiet when I could have spoken out if I'd been braver :-( At times so much of that was in my mind when I looked at Natalie's actions and heard her thoughts. Stars: Four, a really enjoyable and insightful read, more than a simple romance, with a perfect ending. Arc supplied via Publishers.