By Josh Grayson
Publication Date: November 20, 2013
Cover image and summary from Goodreads:
When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.
I was really looking forward to reading this book, because I was intrigued by the plot. I’m a major sucker for mean girl stories – I am, for whatever reason, drawn to books with mean girl characters, and combined with Sia’s amnesia, I was definitely excited about this book.
In the end, it turned out to be a fairly enjoyable read, but one that didn’t delve as deeply into things as I wanted.
Initially, I felt very drawn into the story, as Sia didn’t know who she was. She didn’t even know her name. She spent days living on the street, where she witnessed horrible things happen to vulnerable people, but she also experienced kindness and generosity. I loved the first part of this book, before Sia was found and returned to her life, because it was so different from other books that I’ve read.
Once Sia was reunited with her parents and placed back in her life, things shifted. Sia’s parents appeared to be very wealthy: her father worked in the film industry and her mother had been a model, and they lived in a mansion with a maid, chauffeur, and closets full of glamorous clothes. Sia and her best friends were pretty, popular, and cheerleaders, and her boyfriend was the star quarterback. It felt very cliche. What surprised me, then, was that Sia’s experiences on the street, coupled with her having no memory of her life before, led her to decide she no longer wanted that life as the queen bee / mean girl, with the good-looking but mean friends.
Sia sets out to change her life, wanting to improve relationships with her parents and help out in her community. She also pursues a relationship with Kyle, someone the old Sia would never have considered dating. I thought it was fairly well-written, but it felt that some plot points were rushed, e.g. Sia’s mother deciding to go to rehab or her efforts to raise money for the Red Cross fundraiser. It didn’t really ring true to me because I didn’t feel that there was any real struggle. All of Sia’s problems were neatly resolved in a tidy, happy ending. I like happy endings, but I wanted to feel that Sia really struggled and overcame obstacles before getting there. I just didn’t feel that. I think I wanted to read more about Sia recovering her memories, trying to reconcile who she had been with who she wanted to be / had become.
I enjoyed the romance between Sia and Kyle, and could definitely understand his hesitation to become involved with someone who used to be terrible to him. It was really interesting to read about the reactions of other people to the ‘new’ Sia, because it said a lot about who she had been, and how different she was now.
Overall, the book didn’t explore things as deeply as I hoped, and I didn’t quite make an emotional connection with its characters, but it was a quick, enjoyable read that felt different from much of what I’ve read this year.