My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Lucy Lam wins an inaugural scholarship to Laurinda, an exclusive girls school, and it is an eye opening experience for her – and for us. From a migrant family living in the “poor” part of town, Lucy struggles to fit in and find her place at her new school. A group of girls called The Cabinet run things at Laurinda – get on their wrong side and pay the price. This group reminded me of The Heathers in the movie, Heathers, and also the Plastics in Mean Girls. I think the girls in Pung’s novel are MUCH worse, but it will give you an idea of the kind of people Lucy has to deal with. While she loves her family dearly, Lucy struggles with feeling embarrassed by them and the way they all live.
While she navigates this shaky existence, Lucy has an internal monologue with her best friend, Linh, which gives the reader insight into how she is feeling and reacting to things. Linh seems to have stopped speaking to Lucy since she started at Laurinda, and there are hints it is connected to how she has changed since becoming a student there. Right towards the end of the book we find something out about Linh (no spoilers here, promise), and perhaps I am clueless, but it came as a wonderful surprise to me.
I loved this book. Having attended a government high school I knew about cliques, but I was unaware of how deep they can run in a private school setting. This novel struck me as terrifyingly true to life, and certainly friends I have spoken to who DID attend such schools confirmed this was pretty accurate in many ways.
This is a wonderful novel – scary, but wonderful.
For ages 13 and up.