My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—whether it’s Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage; or Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.
When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.
Beware spoilers ahead!
I received this E-ARC via Netgalley and ABRAMS Kids in exchange for an honest review.
I had first heard of this book through Anna’s review . Click on her name to read her review! When I read her review I liked the sounds of the plot. But I didn’t think much of it afterwards. I went through Netgalley and saw it there. At that point I forgot what happened in it and what was mentioned in the review I read. On a whim I requested it. I am very happy I did so because this book was lovely!
This book is written in first person and it switches between seven people’s point of views. I know that is sounds like a lot to take in but the author pulled this off.
The first point of view we get is Olivia. All the students are being called for an assembly. The vice principle announces that the school has received word through an anonymous person that a teacher is having an affair with a student. The students are in shock and the assembly is dismissed.
Olivia and one of her best friends Juniper exit the assembly in a trance. They have no idea who the teacher and student could be. They meet up with their other friend Claire and they agree to see each other in a bit.
Claire has convinced them to run for student president along with herself. Olivia has no interest in doing so but agrees because it is what Claire wants. When they reach the room the other candidate Matt has not shown up. Olivia is sexually active and Claire tends to get into a fight with her about it. Which is what happens the minute they see that Matt hasn’t shown up.
Juniper disrupts the two and they all agree to leave. Lately Olivia and Claire have been arguing a lot. It started some time after Claire broke up with her long time boyfriend Lucas. Olivia has tried calmly explaining to her that it is her choice to be sexually active but Claire doesn’t seem to get it. Juniper and Olivia hope that this will all work itself out so that they can go back to being good friends.
I am going to stop right there. There are seven different characters so instead of focusing on the point of views I’ll tell you a little bit about the characters.
Like I mentioned earlier Olivia is sexually active. She is not ashamed of being so in fact she’s quite comfortable with it. The way she sees it it’s her body and she can make her choices based on that.
I was surprisingly comfortable with reading Olivia’s point of view. I would say that she was one of my favorite point of views to read about. Which lead to me loving her character!
Matt has had this crush on Olivia for a very long time. Even though he hasn’t talked to her once. He thinks it doesn’t make any sense but can’t stop himself. When his best friend Burke signs him up for student president he actually has a chance to talk to her. To help things even more the two are partnered up for an english assignment. Now all he has to do is make decent conversation with her without offending her.
Matt was sweet. And I liked how despite the fact that he has this huge crush on Olivia he doesn’t kiss up to her. He speaks his mind.
Kat (Olivia’s twin sister) would much rather play games and perform in theater rather than do anything else. She skips school whenever she feels like to stay at home and play games. She isn’t the best sister or daughter but she does not care. She is drained every single day. And it doesn’t help that her sister keeps trying to talk to her about her problems. As far as Kat’s concerned their family has never been the same since their mother left and does not contact them.
I was surprised yet again that I grew to love Kat’s character! I didn’t like her at first because she was so mean to Olivia but she grew on me. As I continued to read I understood her better.
Lucas (Claire’s ex-boyfriend) is Mr. Sociable and Mr. Smiles. He’s nice to everybody and very sociable. He collects friends like a reader would collect books. He doesn’t seem to like being alone. He is also the school’s drug dealer. There’s more to his break-up with Claire than anyone knows.
To be honest I didn’t like Lucas. I was put off with his friend collecting habit. I did start feeling bad for him later on but that’s about it. Although I can’t deny that he wasn’t realistic.
Valentine’s mother is the school’s guidance counselor. He was the one who reported the student teacher affair. He was passing by one day and overheard a conversation. A girl was explaining that she was being very careful about their relationship. He got scared and ran before he could find out who the girl was as well as the teacher she was talking to. He is not good with people. He would much rather read books or do his homework then interact with his fellow peers. As far as he’s concerned the people he goes to high school with are all stupid.
I found myself liking Valentine! While I like interacting with people there are times when I would much rather be home and just relax. Other times I have no interest in leaving my house. His point of views was by far the most interesting to read about!
Claire has been a mess since her break-up. She has started feeling insecure about her looks after the break-up. She has a feeling that Lucas had feelings for someone else. Which would explain his line when he was dumping her “You can’t compare…” She also feels like her friendship with Olivia and Juniper won’t last very long. They seem to keep secrets from her and tell each other.
When I first started reading Claire’s point of view I actually liked her. It wasn’t mentioned that she compared herself to Juniper and Olivia, just that she was insecure about her looks and where she stood with her friends. Then it switched gears and she was jealous of Olivia and Juniper. I also felt that her character was for the sake of a plot device. I think that the author could’ve done more with her character. Despite this she was very realistic.
Juniper may look like she has it all together but she does not. Lately she’s been feeling depressed, and lonely. She has also started drinking a lot. It seems to make her forget what’s bothering her. She also starts focusing on her school work to avoid everything that’s making her upset.
Junipers point of view was weird to read about. It seemed to be written like a poem. Her character remains a mystery for the majority of the book. You do get to understand her which was nice. She had a lot of depth. She was also very understanding. I liked her!
Everything about this book was realistic! Even some of the smallest things like how the students reacted to taking a survey about the student teacher affair. All of the main characters are someone you have met in your life. Even if they aren’t appealing.
I loved how the author was able to create a distinct voice between the characters! Some of the chapters were written differently to show us the character. The student teacher affair was also very well done. I liked how it wasn’t romanticized but instead acknowledged as unprofessional. You do find out who the student and the teacher is. I found that the characters reactions to this revelation were realistic.
Overall this was a fantastic book! I recommend this to everyone because there is something in it that you will all like and relate to!