REVIEW by Ginny: New Girl by Paige Harbison (@paigeharbison , @ginnylurcock)

I hadn’t wanted to go, but my parents were so excited…. So here I am, the new girl at Manderley, a true fish out of water. But mine’s not the name on everyone’s lips. Oh, no.
It’s Becca Normandy they can’t stop talking about. Perfect, beautiful Becca. She went missing at the end of last year, leaving a spot open at Manderley—the spot that I got. And everyone acts like it’s my fault that infallible, beloved Becca is gone and has been replaced by not perfect, completely fallible, unknown Me.
Then, there’s the name on my lips—Max Holloway. Becca’s ex. The one boy I should avoid, but can’t. Thing is, it seems like he wants me, too. But the memory of Becca is always between us. And as much as I’m starting to like it at Manderley, I can’t help but think she’s out there, somewhere, watching me take her place.
Waiting to take it back.

I did not know when I requested “New Girl” that it was a modern retelling of Rebecca. If I had, I probably would not have requested it. When I was going through my “I must read all the classics” phase I flip flopped on Rebecca, and in the end, I had come down on the side of “nuh uh.” I can’t even remember why now, but there you have it. As such, when I went to goodreads and found out the retelling angle, I was hesitant to continue.
Now, since I haven’t read the original, I can’t tell you how the two compare. What I can tell you though, is that I enjoyed this version of it. “New Girl” is the story of Becca and the girl who replaced her told from the perspective of Becca and the unnamed narrator. Becca had been the new girl at the exclusive Manderly Academy (in historic New Hampsire) and used all the typical teenage girl “look at me I’m pretty” methods to get attention. As such, everyone loved her. Or at least claimed to love her. Anyways, now that she’s missing, everyone swears they loved her and isn’t she just the best? OH MY GOD I MISS HER SO MUCH!
Then our unnamed narrator shows up to take her open slot in the school. It’s awkward, for everyone. Mainly because Dana, her roommate, is OBSESSED with making sure no one forgets Becca and tries to expose our darling narrator as being a fraud trying to steal Becca’s throne. The only thing is, New Girl isn’t trying to be Becca, she just wants everyone to shut up about her already. Which of course makes her feel guilty, as she is wishing ill on a girl who may or may not be dead.
Then you get to add in the fact that she has the hots for Becca’s boyfriend Max and a confusing relationship with Max’s former best friend Johnny. Both of whom the wonder twins Madison and Julia keep advising her to stay away from because Becca has some possibly posthumous dibs on. Oh New Girl, you’re not going to know what hit you.
Ok, now let’s get down to the detractable points:
There’s like 2 feet of oceanfront property in New Hampshire. I know, I’ve lived here all my life and spent summers at a beach in Maine growing up. I know the siren song of the ocean, and in New Hampsire, it’s faint. Due to lack of ocean. Setting the school on the ocean in New Hampshire was… odd. Also, they kept insulting our beautiful rocky beaches. So effe you characters in a book. *huff* Alright, so it’s minor, but still, I like our 24 inches of beach.
Young Adult he told me? Young Adult my ass. See, there can only be so much talk of drinking, drugs, sex, rape, blackmail, etc… before I go “you know, this is an adult novel.” That line is WAY back there. Can you see it “The New Girl”? No? That’s because you crossed it in chapter two. It does give a fascinating look at, if I’m being honest, the real secret life of the American teenager. (Genny honey, mommy is kidding, now go back to your tower.) It’d probably be good for people 17+… as long as they’re not my kid, but still, not so much young adult.
Also, at the end, in case you didn’t get it, it outlines what you were supposed to get from the story. I mean it might as well have said “no need to draw your own conclusions, I’ve done that for you.” This might have been due to the YA angle, but if you’re trusting your readers to handle all the content, you should trust them to come away with the proper meaning of the book.
Or at least be able to google it.
4 stars. In the end, I was left wanting to read the original. I had been intrigued by this story, and now I’m curious as to how they compare. I think convincing me to read a book I’d vowed to avoid earns it 4 stars. Even if they did insult our beaches.
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1 Comment

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