This YA novel is about the loss of friendship when life takes you to different parts of the world. Kayla's parents move her "a few towns away," though it feels more like just the other side of the mall. She leaves behind her three best friends and her school. Kayla, like any teen, is not happy with moving away from everything she knows, but Dad has a better job in this new town. Kayla can be a surly teen during this time and has problems in her relationship with mom, an alcoholic with a temper.
Oddly, the moment the family pulls in the driveway of their new home Kayla has a change of heart, or did that happen when she realized the mall was now within walking distance? Or was it when she laid eyes on her bedroom for the first time or the in-ground pool in the backyard. Point is, Kayla's angst over moving, the loss of old friends and school disappear like they never mattered much. Kayla finds she likes her new school and is accepted quickly therel.
Kayla instantly becomes best friends with Carol, the leader of the cool group of students (made up of the usual type: football players, cheerleaders, and any student that can provide something they need). Except for the short time that Kayla's old friends visit, she spends most of her time with or around Carol. They eat lunch together, even though the other girls whisper (I think we are to think is about Kayla). Kayla goes to the mall, turning the other way when Carol shoplifts (an item Kayla later wears to a party). The guy Kayla likes only gives her attention or a smile when Carol tells him to. The entire world is at odds with all Kayla once knew yet she never really questions anything.
At the climatic parents-are-away party Kayla, all dressed up thanks to Carol and the shop-lifted item, takes her first drink only moments after entering the house, without pause, a bit odd for the child of an alcoholic. She then accepts the hand of the guy she likes and follows him to an upstairs bedroom, again without pause.. There he pretends to like her and proceeds to play baseball, hitting a home run over Kayla's objections. Suddenly the door flies open and four more guys take a swing. This was all Carol's idea of revenge. What had Kayla done to deserve this? She had the audacity to change schools. Seriously? Because Kayla had gone to a rival high school she was slipped the date drug, not once but twice leading to an overdose. Revenge in the form of rape, which gets out of hand and becomes a gang rape. Seriously? And the ending? Where is it? Loose threads are everywhere making for a completely dissatisfying end. What was the author thinking leaving everything unfinished like this?
For me book was difficult to stay with in the beginning. Those first few pages, until the actual move, are dry, without a hook to make the pages turn. Once the move occurred the pace picked up yet still dragged at times. The voice of the kids sounded the same. Everyone used the slang "'Kay" including the adults way too many times. The phrase became annoying.
I think the entire book needs a re-edit and polished. It could be a good story, even an interesting story, a horror story Just not a cautionary story, unless gang rape revenge for being the new kid in school has become a problem. The ending was non-existent and immediately made me think the author was more interested in fishing for a sequel than finishing "book one." I do not know if I could read another Kayla story; the character is not compelling. I do think everyone who reads this will want that missing ending and be frustrated to find it doesn't exist.
NOTE: received from author
**A sequel is apparently in the works which answers the questions left at the end. I think this is a poor ploy by the author. Those questions should not have been left hanging. Rather than a sequel, the book should have been longer. Leaving the ending abruptly, with many threads hanging, especially in regards to the protagonist, is a rotten way to gather readers for the next book.