Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Private Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Yet another cliquey series, but with a nicer star.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 21 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Reed strives to be popular, even though the girls in the top clique are not kind to her.


At a party, Thomas holds Reed down against her will -- then pushes her to the ground in anger.


Reed loses her virginity and also sneaks around to be with her boyfriend.


Some swearing and mean talk.


A sprinkling: Mercedes, Kerastase hair products, Abercrombie, Coke, Lucky Charms

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Thomas deals drugs, other characters drink; Reed's mother is an addict, as are Thomas' parents.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Reed obsesses over a clique of popular girls who can sometimes be quite mean: They pressure her to steal a test, break up with her boyfriend, and spike a teacher's drink; later they even conspire to have another girl thrown out for cheating. Also, Reed's boyfriend -- whom she loses her virginity to -- drinks, deals drugs, and pushes her down in a rage. There is also some swearing and mean talk, along with a little label name-dropping.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byCommonSenseParent November 27, 2010

Excellent, well-written read for 6th grade and up

Private is a well-written guilty pleasure novel that is an enjoyable and entertaining read for 6th grade and up. Kids will enjoy the fun details of the wealthy... Continue reading
Adult Written byMcGeek998 August 15, 2010

It's a good book!

It's one of the best books I've ever read, but Noelle is a HORRIBLE role model as are the other girls. And the language isn't very ap... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bygigi235 April 14, 2020

These are the best I'M HOOKED

These books are great. Some suggestive stuff but it is not to much. All of the books are the best. Great for all of the tween and teens to read. This is from a... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bygymnast440 June 21, 2016

A little mature, but worse books out there

These books are interesting and suspenseful. I have read more mature books than these. If you have had the "talk" and know what is or isn't appro... Continue reading

What's the story?

When Reed transfers to Easton Academy, she wants to escape her old life, including an abusive, addicted mother. Usually a loner, Reed soon earns attention from two sources: A clique of the school's most popular girls, and a handsome bad boy. But each pressures her to make a choice -- and Reed is not sure she who she can really trust, if anyone.

Is it any good?

This series starter has a lot of the trappings of the clique lit genre: An elite boarding school, a group of beautiful and popular girls, and lots of mean talk and pranks. It also has another common trapping: The debut sets up a lot of intrigue, but nothing is resolved (and it's unclear what lessons the protagonist has actually learned). What sets this book a little apart is that protagonist Reed is a realistic and sympathetic character. Blue-collar Reed can't wait to escape her boring hometown and her abusive, addicted mother. But she's flawed, too -- when Thomas accuses her of using him, he's right. And she uses the popular Billings Girls to a certain degree as well, though she's not driven by materialism, but rather a deep longing to belong.

In the end, readers will connect with Reed -- and all the drama she finds at Easton Academy, from discovering that her boyfriend is the school drug dealer to suspecting that the Billings Girls helped get someone expelled. Teens taking a break from required reading will likely find enough fun here to have them RSVPing for the next installment, Invitation Only.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of the clique lit genre. Are these types of books simply escape, or do they promote dangerous values? Do they impact the way girls treat one another -- or themselves?

Book details

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