The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions)

320p. Little, Brown/Poppy. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316382786; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316382762.
Gr 7–10—Jules McCallister-Morgan has first-world problems. It's her senior year, and this overachieving, neurotic, privileged perfectionist might possibly explode unless a few things happen first: 1) her favorite Ivy League school accepts her application, and 2) she becomes the new editor in chief of her high school's newspaper. Just as things seem to be going well for Jules, her senior year veers off course when she falls for a hot former boybander with a mysterious past. Then, a rival journalist creates a video newscast, throwing her beloved newspaper under the bus. Even her volunteer job as a dog walker is compromised. It doesn't take long before there is an all-out, vicious war between the print and the video journalists, with Jules at the helm. Spalding excels at creating flawed characters whose own issues and mistakes propel the plot forward. Readers will grind their teeth over some of Jules's narcissistic and selfish decisions, such as publishing a hurtful article about a person she really cares about and ignoring and lying to her best friend for months. Her change of perspective at the end feels a bit contrived but does create a satisfying end. Jules's two moms add a layer of diversity, but many readers will find this Los Angeles prep school drama difficult to relate to.
VERDICT A cute and fluffy read, this book will appeal to those who want a gentle high school drama with a touch of romance.

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