Book Review: Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten
You guys. I can’t even with this book. It is a psychological thriller on steroids – mesmerizingly creepy from first to very last page. It kept making me anxious enough to have to put it down, but it’s so fascinating I kept picking it back up. I think this one is going to be big. Really big. Colossal.
Kate O’Brien is a scholarship student at the prestigious Waverly School in New York City for her senior year of high school. She’s spent her entire childhood bouncing from one private school to another to avoid the foster care system (or worse). This new school, though isn’t a boarding school so she lies and tells them she’s living with her aunt. In reality she’s living in the storage room in the basement of a Chinese market. But Kate knows how to play the game, and these accommodations are only temporary. From day one, she is on the hunt for a best friend. She’s looking for a rich girl who is slightly broken who needs a new best friend. Someone who will become so dependent upon her that she will ask her to move in with her. She finds the perfect mark in Olivia Sumner.
Olivia is rich, exquisitely beautiful, and very troubled. As a bonus, she lives with her father and housekeeper in a penthouse only a few steps from school. Her father, who travels constantly, worries about Olivia. You see, Olivia is actually repeating her senior year after having had some kind of breakdown the previous year and spending much of it in a hospital. Having a bright scholarship student who is her new best friend move in seems to be a win-win proposition. Olivia has played right into Kate’s capable hands. Or has she?
Throw into this mix the devastatingly handsome Mark Redkin, Waverly’s new advancement director (fundraiser.) To everyone but Kate, Mark seems to be the consummate player. Charming in the extreme, he has every female on campus wrapped around his finger. Kate can see past that, though, and recognizes something much darker going on behind the facade he presents to the world. When he goes after Olivia, Kate loses her detachment from their relationship. Instead of just using her friendship with Olivia as a means to an end, she begins to care. Both girls have secrets that Redkin exploits to his own advantage.
Olivia and Kate are both strongly drawn characters with intricate personalities and personal demons to overcome. At first, it’s natural to believe the title refers to Kate…but then you begin to wonder as you follow the girls deeper into their relationship and their secrets are revealed. Even to the very end of the book, the question we’re left with is to whom the title refers, and who needs to beware.
*On a side note, I had the pleasure of meeting the author at a publisher’s dinner last week, and she is delightful. (I wrote the review before I met her.)
Beware That Girl will be available from Delacorte Press on May 31st, 2016.
Filed under: book review
About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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