by Elisa Ludwig
Katherine Tegen Books
March 13, 2012
Source: Netgalley, which provided me with an e-ARC on behalf of the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Mature Content: some fairly tame partying scenes
My summary: When Willa Fox's artist mother sells her paintings for big bucks, Willa is whisked from a public school in Colorado to an exclusive private academy in sunny Arizona. Willa is quickly drawn in by the Glitterati, the school's in-crowd. But after a whirlwind of shopping and girl talk, Willa learns that her friends aren't so welcoming to all new students. In fact, the Glitterati uses an anonymous blog to cyberbully other girls. Soon Willa has had enough, and hatches a daring -- if imprudent -- plan to steal from the Glitterati and give the loot to the needier students at school. She's a modern day Robin Hood!
The opening chapters of this book had me laughing out loud on the subway. (I think the hipster next to me was convinced I was mocking him for listening to "Last Friday Night" on his iPod.) As the book opens, Willa Fox cruises into Valley Prep Academy on a bright orange vintage Schwinn bike, is almost run down by a car, then spots the hottest guy she's ever seen. Things for Willa get even better when she's taken in by the Glitterati, a posse of rich girls.
After that, there's a lengthy period of set up -- a long stretch of shopping and parties and gossip. Eventually, Willa realizes that her new friends are not only rich and gorgeous -- they're mean. They use an anonymous blog to cyberbully a group of scholarship students, calling them skanks and making fun of their downscale clothes.
Willa decides that something has to be done, and that she's just the girl to do it.
She decides to steal from the Glitterati and give the loot to the scholarship students. At first, I thought Willa was going to give away money, but no. In a sort of fairy-godmother-slash-makeover-show move, she buys the girls clothes, playing ding dong ditch with her Neiman Marcus packages.
For a while, everything's going fine with Willa's plan. Willa's mom is too distracted by some sinister guy to pay much attention to her daughter's comings and goings. But then everything goes disastrously wrong...
This book had a little bit of everything: one part fish-out-of-water tale, one part caper story, one part issue novel. In a refreshing turn of events, Willa keeps Aidan, the aforementioned hot boy, at a distance for most of the book. Adult readers may cringe at the constant brand-dropping and Willa's belief that new clothes solve everything. But the book makes clear that Willa will have to face the consequences of her actions.
In fact, Pretty Crooked ends abruptly, so readers will have to pick up the next book in the series to find out what happens to Willa -- and what the heck her mother is up to. My verdict? I found Willa funny enough, her mother mysterious enough, and supporting characters Cherise and Tre interesting enough to be up for following their adventures into another book.
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