Monday, January 12, 2009

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Title: Pretty Little Liars
Author: Sara Shepard
Series: Pretty Little Liars #1
ISBN-13: 9780060887322
Pages: 286
Year Published: 2006
Genre: Young Adult (Mystery)
Date Finished: January 11

From the back cover: Everyone has something to hide-especially high school juniors Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna. Spencer covets her sister's boyfriend. Aria's fantasizing about her English teacher. Emily's crushing on the new girl at school. Hanna uses some ugly tricks to stay beautiful. But they've all kept an even bigger secret since their friend Alison vanished. How do I know? Because I know everything about the bad girls they were, the naughty girls they are, and all the dirty secrets they've kept. And guess what? I'm telling.

My thoughts: Imagine you are BFF with the most popular girl in school. Everyone else wants to be you. Of course you love the power you have that so many people are envious of you, but secretly you truly wonder if being her BFF is a blessing or a curse. Now imagine it's the start of the summer between seventh and eighth grade and you and your BFF are celebrating by having your annual summer sleepover. Things don't go quite as planned and the two of you end up fighting and she walks out of your house. The very next morning you hear from her mom and you just know something terrible has happened. Suddenly days turn into weeks and before you know it the summer has ended, school has started and still no word from your BFF. She just simply disappeared off the face of the earth. Although you do not wish her any harm, you have to admit, there's a part of you that's relieved that she's gone. You start to feel freer and less burdened because all the secrets she knows about you, have vanished along with her. Horrible to think, some might say, but if they knew what she knew about you, they might feel exactly the same.

This is how it is for Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily. Alison, Ali, disappears during their slumber party. After her disappearance, the four friends gradually drift apart until no one can even recall they were once friends. It's now three years later and the teens are about to start their junior year. Spencer is very anal, in competition with her older sister about everything (and a certain someone); Hanna is now the new "it" girl, but carries a terrible secret about her drastic makeover; Aria is back from Iceland with her family and has a crush on a new boy, unfortunately she just found out he's her new English teacher; and Emily is the all-american good girl doing what she can to please her parents, that is until she meets Maya...

All four have secrets, secrets that they want to stay buried. Secrets that only one other person knows about: Ali. During the first week of school, each start to receive texts about their secrets, threatening to expose them. Each text is simply signed "A" and naturally the girls think Ali is back. But is she? Not only does "A" haunt them with their past, "A" knows what they are hiding now. It's as though each girl is being watched.

I really enjoyed this first book of the series and devoured it in one sitting. It's fast-paced, with short chapters and you just want to keep reading to learn more about what each girl is hiding. The story goes back and forth between past and present, but it's not confusing at all. After each girl receives a text, the author will go back to the past to explain its relevancy. Actually, I thought it added to the suspense.

Although this is a young adult novel, I have reservations about preteens reading it. There are mature themes discussed in the book and if younger children read it, I suggest the parents read it as well and have a conversation about these topics.


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