Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: March 13th, 2012
High school sophomore Willa and her artist mother move to Arizona where Willa starts attending an elite prep school after her mother finally sells some paintings, and Willa attempts to even things out by stealing from the rich students and giving to the poor ones.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)
When I first read about this book, I was curious. A modern-day retelling of Robin Hood where the "rich" are mean girls at an ultra-exclusive private school, and the "poor" are the scholarship kids that attend there? I figured it would be one of two things; either painfully cliche or cute in a snarky/funny kind of way. What I didn't expect is that it would be delightfully cliche, cute, snarky/funny, and have a message to go along with it. It was like a mash-up of Gossip Girl, Mean Girls, and Robin Hood.
Willa starts out at her new school when her mother finds success after many years as a starving artist, and on her first day meets the "nice girl" that is part of every popular/mean girl clique. She befriends her and immediately taken into the fold. As time goes by, Willa realizes more and more that she doesn't really fit in with this ultra-rich crowd, and that the girls, with the exception of Cherise (the "nice one"), are not very nice at all. They constantly berate, bully, and cyber-abuse everyone, including one another, but especially the scholarship girls, who Willa knows to be very nice. This bothers Willa. Since Willa knows that it would be social suicide to confront them about their behavior, she begins stealing from them and using the money to buy designer stuff for the poor girls, who see their statuses raised by having access to these things. Yes, cliche, but still quite cute...
But that isn't all... "How does Willa come by her mad thievery skills?", you may ask. She enlists the help of Tre, a sexy, mysterious bad boy who also just started at her school. Son of a pro basketball player, he has a shady (possibly criminal?) past, and is full of tips to help Willa with her scheming; with the tips, however, come his advice to not do whatever it is she's doing. And then there's Aiden, who of course, is the unattainable, super-gorgeous, ultra-rich, bad boy/playboy who shows interest in Willa, then kind of disappears until later on in the book. THEN, aside from the teenage romance, there's another element of mystery with Willa's mom and possibly the father she never knew?
As you can see, there is a lot going on in this book, and honestly, while there are some things that I saw coming a mile away, there were some events that I didn't expect (although I won't spoil them here). It had its moments of been-there-done-that, but it also had a great many laughs and right-on moments as well. It addresses cyber-bullying in a non-preachy manner that I like, and it doesn't leave a black-and-white, right-or-wrong taste in your mouth. It would be interesting to have teens read this and debate Willa's actions and whether they are justified or not. I'm glad this book is the first in a series because as much as I enjoyed the book, I didn't love how it ended; it felt very abrupt and it left me a tad bit annoyed. Thankfully, the 2nd book, Pretty Sly, comes out in March of 2013, and Willa's story will continue. I, for one, can't wait to read it.
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Grade Level Recommendation: There's the standard teen drunkenness, partying, and sex that are a part of any YA book about the overprivileged, undersupervised. I would say this is best suited for grades 8 and up (ages 13+).