Some say that you never really get away from the high school social stratosphere, and Altamirano’s take on the mean girl clique may convince readers that there’s truth in that, especially as a nervous Beth tries to make sense of the group–and to fit in. Altamirano exaggerates in-group behavior, where a smirk can devastate, an invite is actually a command, and dirt is power. While the arc of the plot is familiar, Elise’s group goes further than readers might expect, drawing gasps and dropping jaws with cruelties and humiliations best left unspoiled.
Audiences will sympathize with Altamirano’s characters, except for Elise, who plays the mean-girl role as if she’s bucking for the state championship. It’s easy to identify with Beth, of course, but also some in Elise’s squad–and to hope above all else that these women come to their senses and stand up to Elise’s insidious games, which ultimately will put marriages (and not just friendships) to the test. Crisp comic dialogue and a feel for awkward social dynamics help this one stand out.
Takeaway: This polished beach read updates high school’s mean girls to mean moms, ruling a suburb.
Great for fans of: Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars, Lisi Harrison’s The Clique series.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A