Gr 9 Up—Things were not great when their parents divorced, but at least Alex and Thea had each other. Then their mother met Arthur, and now they are even losing the strong sisterly bond they once shared. Sudden, extreme wealth has changed everything, including their self-perceptions. Beautiful, socially at ease, and effortlessly popular Alex is now starving herself and has developed a stifling phobia of going out in public. Meanwhile, Thea, once a determined academic, is doggedly pursuing the social status formerly enjoyed by her older sister. She is transforming her gift for creative writing into orally spun lies about her family and classmates to win the attention of her sister's friends and boyfriend. Both girls are aware of how their lives are spinning out of control, but they are too absorbed in their own problems to help each other. With their mother and stepdad away for the weekend, Thea plans the party of the year, hoping to finally capture her place in the spotlight, but the event ultimately winds up pitting the sisters against each other. Telling the story through their alternating voices, Griffin drives her plot through the intricate development of her two main characters. While the negative side of wealth is a primary theme, it is by no means the only issue. Loss of bodily control, anorexia, social phobia, sibling rivalry, and compulsive lying are all explored as each girl's story unfolds. An excellent choice for teen girls' discussion groups.—Cary Frostick, Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA
Money is no object for sisters Alex and Thea Parrott after their divorced mother marries Arthur, “the McDaddy of Sugar Daddies.” However, where they end up isn’t where they want to be. The internship at a fashion magazine that Arthur finagles for high school senior Alex ends up being a disaster. When she returns home humiliated and too anxious to eat, socialize, or leave the house, Thea, a junior, thinks it may be her turn to steal the spotlight, as well as Alex’s pot-dealing boyfriend, Joshua. Thea discovers too late that making up stories isn’t the best way to win friends. Spanning one frantic, life-changing weekend as the sisters prepare to throw a party, Griffin’s (Tighter) hard-edged novel offers an in-depth examination of two teens coming to painful terms with what they need, as well as what they’ve lost by having extreme wealth dumped in their laps. If the “poor little rich girl” theme is somewhat well-worn, Griffin shows her customary skill at honing in on her protagonists’ perceptions, internal conflicts, and uncomfortable relationships. Ages 14–up. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Oct.)
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2012:
“A sumptuously written examination of sibling rivalry and socioeconomic class.”
Starred Review, Booklist, September 1, 2012:
“The book is so raw that at times it’s difficult to read—yet it’s impossible to put down.”
Starred Review, School Library Journal, October 2012:
"Loss of bodily control, anorexia, social phobia, sibling rivalry, and compulsive lying are all explored as each girl’s story unfolds. An excellent choice for teen girls’ discussion groups."
Publishers Weekly, September 17, 2012:
"Griffin shows her customary skill at honing in on her protagonists’ perceptions, internal conflicts, and uncomfortable relationships."
Two sisters painfully discover that money can't buy happiness in this provocative family drama. When Alex and Thea's struggling single mom marries a Greenwich, Conn., millionaire, the girls' responses to their elevated lifestyle demonstrate the differences in their personalities. Older sister Alex tries to ignore the new wealth by restricting her enjoyment of it, including the food she allows in her body. Thea, though, sees the money as an opportunity to reinvent herself, even if it means telling elaborate lies to gain entrance to the in crowd. Both girls miss the bond they shared with their mother during the lean times, but that doesn't keep them from throwing a party at the mansion they call Camelot while the 'rents are away. Their self-destructive behaviors come to a head during the bash, and one finds unexpected redemption, while the other discovers just how low she will sink to get her sister's attention. National Book Award finalist Griffin repeatedly nails the details of this tony community and its 1-percent residents with perfectly turned phrases that are just right. A high-end handbag is "plopped like an overfed tabby cat on the seat," while a financially struggling classmate owns a wallet "as ancient as the Dead Sea Scrolls and always flat as a pita besides." A sumptuously written examination of sibling rivalry and socioeconomic class. (Fiction. 14 & up)