Everybody thinks Syrah is the golden girl. After all, her father is Ethan Cheng, billionaire, and she has everything any kid could possibly desire: a waterfront mansion, jet plane, and custom-designed snowboards. But most of what glitters in her life is fool's gold. Her half-siblings hate her, her best friend's girlfriend is ruining their friendship, and her own so-called boyfriend is only after her for her father's name. When her broken heart results in a snowboarding accident that exiles her from the mountains-the one place where she feels free and accepted for who she is, not what she has-can Syrah rehab both her busted-up knee, and her broken heart?
Justina Chen Headley writes with an engaging wit and a powerful, distinct voice. Her first novel, Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) was a Border's Original Voices nominee, a Book Sense pick, and received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: Headley makes an impressive debut with this witty, intimate novel.
Adding to a category overrun with poor-little-rich-girl plotlines, Headley (Nothing But the Truth [and a few white lies]) crafts a tale that will stand out in the crowd by offering a good dose of girl power and an intriguing family backstory. Fifteen-year-old Syrah Cheng, daughter of a billionaire mobile phone magnate, has blown out her knee after a snowboarding accident and can no longer hit the slopes. She still feels shattered by the realization that her would-be boyfriend was only after her father's money, and is too afraid to reciprocate her best friend's overtures toward another kind of relationship ("Why chance turning Age into a here-today-gone-tomorrow boyfriend?"). Add to that two absentee parents and a pair of adult half-siblings who hate her guts, and Syrah, the narrator, is sinking into a full-on pity party, finding respite only in her manga journal. But even when Syrah complains, the tone stays tart, conveying a tough-girl personality that leaves room for vulnerability. As the novel shifts from Syrah's self-pity to her self-critique, its scope grows more interesting, especially when Syrah learns more about her family. The outsize scale of the family fortune and prestige, combined with the gratifying empowerment theme, will attract (and hold) Meg Cabot fans. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)
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Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
December 31, 2009
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