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 a rather old-fashioned plot, with teen sex serving as a "shocking" secret; smoking is portrayed as a rebellious act. Despite the suggestive title, the sex is pretty tame; Nothing is explicit, they're in a committed relationship, and they use birth control.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Katie, 14, and her 17-year-old sister Michaela thrive in the fast pace of New York City, where they attend a prestigious ballet school. Then their mom's new job requires a sudden move to a rural town. This leaves fashion-plate Katie warily facing a dragonfly (she attempts to annihilate it with bug spray), a deer in her front yard, and a cute boy in her homeroom class. Michaela, in contrast, embraces their new surroundings, befriending the popular crowd and dating the school's hot quarterback. Katie, accustomed to sharing everything with her big sis, feels left out and homesick -- especially when she discovers Michaela is hiding some major secrets.
Is it any good?
Readers who prefer the mall to a park may find Katie's small-town travails humorous (she is horrified by the very idea of camping) but for many, her whining will grow tedious. Indeed, a friend tells her, "Your princess act does get a little old after a while." (In a genuine moment, Katie spits back, "It's not an act. This is how I am . . . I don't wear flannel.")
When Katie (the first-person narrator) stops complaining long enough to actually do something, the book zips along more pleasantly. The plot is standard-issue (a teen asserts her independence, a fish out of water realizes her new home isn't so bad after all, a little sister discovers the big sister she worships isn't perfect), but the sisterly bond is appealing. Michaela offers advice and big-sister sighs as she strives to create her own life, setting boundaries for both her nosy sister and their controlling mother.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Katie and Michaela's family keeps so many secrets. Katie's parents withhold important information from her, supposedly so she won't get upset. How do all these lies and secrets affect their relationships? Families can also discuss how and why a passion (such as Michaela's dancing, or other sports or hobbies) can stop being fun, and what parents can do to help teens feel less pressured.