It is the beginning of the summer holidays in a town in the middle of nowhere. Julia and her best friends Chicky and Rachel are school leavers emerging from their girlhood and waiting for the future. They - and their parents - are excited when Miranda, a charismatic and exotically beautiful woman from the city, arrives to teach a summer class. Miranda encourages curiosity and independence among her charges, but she also casts a shadow: the lifelong bonds between the girls begin to dissipate; confidences are broken; Julia yearns for the city, for an escape from boys who drink beer and race stolen cars across the gravel down by the bridge. But Miranda has her own doubts and betrayals. She too is asking: when will I be found out? "The New Girl" is a novel about girls and the women who shape them; about influence, identity, individual freedom and group responsibility.
Publisher and industry reviews
UK Kirkus review
'There are three teenage girls, walking along a sunlit road.... This is the road they have walked along all their lives.' So Perkins begins this rites-of-passage novel. The tale belongs to Julia and her close friends Chicky and Rachel, trapped in the confines of small-town America. Strikingly dissimilar, mentally as well as physically, they have different hopes and aspirations, but together savour the end of their schooldays and the onset of an adolescent summer of freedom. Yet at the same time they struggle with how to approach the rest of their lives, whether to continue on the same road or travel further afield. Into the struggle comes Miranda, an escapee from the city, still reeling from an unhappy love affair, intent on setting up a summer school to help the local kids 'discover themselves'. And Julia is mesmerized. Miranda is, like the inner world Julia has created for herself, 'a midday mirage on a hot tarry road'. And as with a mirage Julia can't touch the reality. Each of the town's inhabitants sees Miranda from a different viewpoint. Outwardly cool and calm, within Miranda is a mass of contradictions. She is the catalyst that unleashes the emotions simmering below the surface. The girls and their contemporaries on Miranda's course revel in their new freedom, self-expression and sexual discovery. But childish insecurities struggle behind the veneer of adult language and desires. A suffocating tension builds and the townspeople and the three friends can never be the same after Miranda. The relentless inevitability of the characters' journeys towards their fate absorbs and disturbs as this powerful, unsettling novel draws to a climax. The reality of adulthood stamps its mark on each of the girls and Perkins's writing leaves an equally strong impression on the reader. (Kirkus UK)
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