Author: Paige Harbison
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Released: January 18, 2011
Author's Website: http://www.paigeharbison.com/ph/home.html
Bridget is happy with her life - she thinks. She's the most popular girl in school, everyone wants to be her or be her friend, she throws great parties - she has it all. Her only problems are an annoying teacher and her impossible stepmother, but she deals. Until she goes overboard in her crazy manipulations of others all in an effort to keep herself on top. And she begins to realize that it is all an effort - that she's never herself anymore, she wears a mask all the time - and she's not even sure she likes herself all that much anymore. When her life seems to be falling to pieces, and she recklessly drives her car into a crash, Bridget is given a second chance, to see things as they really are, and maybe to make a difference to her own life and to others'.
Paige Harbison introduces Bridget brilliantly, because at first I hated her for being such a bitch, but I couldn't stop myself from reading to find out what happens to her, and then I began to truly care about her and what happens to her. The reader has to care about the main character, and as horrible as Bridget is, Paige gives us just enough of a glimpse into Bridget's real, hidden by crusts and crusts of bitchiness, self so that we want that faintly crying bit to surface and take charge again.
The concept of what happens when Bridget "dies" (I won't give away too much) is not a new one, but here is executed perfectly. What helps is that it's not the first time Bridget sees things properly, as she does start seeing things before she crashes. So what happens affirms, strengthens, and amplifies what she's been discovering, but most of what she finds out could be her own psyche filling in the blanks.
This book is really good in exploring the way a person could wake up to what she's become and how people react to the persona and to the awakened person. The one thing that bothered me was Liam's reaction to Bridget's epiphany. I expected Liam to react the way Michelle does, which to me felt more realistic, but then Bridget would be left with nothing other than her feeling of satisfaction at having straightened out everything. Which may not be so bad! But at least I expected Liam to need a few days of proof of her change before he accepts her back. He did start seeing some changes before she "crashes" so maybe the stage was already set for this.
In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, the journey of self-discovery, the way Bridget's thoughts, feelings, motives, etc., are shown so clearly and in a way that makes you think about your own choices. Hopefully none are as bad as Bridget's! But still, it's a great thought-provoking book for teens who face social choices every day.
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for providing a digital copy for review!