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The Other Girl: A Midvale Academy Novel
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book features all kinds of racy material, from the main character planning to have sex with her boyfriend in the school's chapel to a scene where an underage girl makes out with a creepy dean as part of an elaborate scheme. There is swearing, drug use, and sex among the teens at Midvale Prep -- and the prettiest girl at school pretty much starves herself in an effort to look thinner.
What's the story?
This is a follow-up to Miller'sInside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn. But this time, instead of seeing and hearing everything that her boyfriend has to say, Molly finds herself alternately in the mind of super beautiful Pilar Binitez-Jones -- a girl whom Gideon (and every other boy at school) has a crush on. This leads to some majorly soul-crushing moments, like at an academic competition when Pilar thinks about Gideon: "If we win tonight... I will sleep with him, and I will totally try to stay with him too." But eventually, though her ESP, Molly is able to make some smart insights about the insecurities everyone has deep inside -- and how to be happy anyway.
Is it any good?
Readers shouldn't expect to really be challenged here, but as far as fun, fluffy, prep school books are concerned, this one is pretty well done. The cast of characters may be somewhat predictable -- Molly is smart but insecure, Gideon is sweet and clueless, while pretty Pilar's perfection comes at a price -- but the ESP angle is a fun device and leads to some hilarious moments (such as when Molly calls the Fred Segal store to warn them that Pilar has been trying on bathing suits without her underwear). The sweet underlying message about being true to yourself (instead of trying to be exactly what your boyfriend wants) will even leave readers feeling good about devouring this literary junk food.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of media about rich people. What other TV shows, books, and movies can you think of? How are we supposed to feel about the characters? Like them, hate them, envy them, judge them? What does this display of wealth do to our expectations of or (our contentment with) our own lives?
This book is number two in the series. Have you read other series? Why do you like them? What are other books you'd like to see sequels to? Are book sequels ever as good as the first book in the series? Why do you think publishers ask authors to write them? Do you think it has more to do with book sales -- or the creation of a really good character who has more to say?