CBR11Bingo – Far and Away! This book is set in Australia, which according to a random internet website, is about halfway around the world from me.
Will Everhart loathes her life at her new stuffy school Rosemead girls’ academy. She’s always fought loudly on the side of injustice, leaving her a little lonely and unliked at her public school, but that’s only exacerbated here. Even though the principal has got an eye on her, and even though her grades are failing, she still can’t keep her mouth shut when the swim coach makes yet another rude and sexist comment to one of her classmates. The guy is a prick and hey, she calls a spade a spade. She knows she’s not the only one who feels that way. She’s just the only one who acknowledges it.
In detention for said spade-calling, Will challenges the classmate who didn’t stand up for her in gym class: Harriet Price. Not that Harriet would ever talk back to a teacher and ruin her perfect grades, perfect reputation, or perfect life. But surprisingly, Harriet does acknowledge that Coach Hadley occasionally, maybe, I don’t know, goes too far with his words, his looks, his behavior. So color Will shocked when Harriet proposes that something COULD be done. If only it could be done without ruining her stellar reputation and getting Will expelled.
Thus, Amelia Westlake is born. A pseudonym representing a girl who seems like she SHOULD go to Rosemeade, but who simply doesn’t exist. Amelia debuts in a cartoon in the following week’s school paper, portraying a very recognizable swim coach performing slimy uniform inspection on his students. But everyone is quick to gossip on who this girl is – Will’s one sort-of friend Nat, smart and savvy editor of the paper; Principal Croon, who naturally suspects Will, and basically everyone on campus. With each socially conscious prank, Will and Harriet risk exposure — but the project becomes more and more important to them not just for social justice, but for reasons of the heart.
This was a very cute read, akin to an earlier book I reviewed (Heretics Anonymous), about students pushing back against gross and prejudiced school issues. Readers of that and books like Moxie would likely enjoy this one for its similar story. But you could also hand it to anyone who loves a good I-hate-you-I-love-you romance, especially if they like their romances f/f. Love, Simon fans would adore this too, as it’s a nice balance of romance and light intrigue! It is dually narrated between Will’s dark and subversively humorous voice and Harriet’s peppy, naive, privileged one. The pranks are fun – some seem a little impossible for two girls to get done under the radar, but it’s more fun to go with it – and the principal makes for a good villain. Family drama and senior-year concerns add additional conflict, and supportive characters like Nat and Harriet’s brother Arthur are also very likable. Quick, light read – I read it over a quick weekend holiday. (See, I’m using Australian terminology now.)
My first Bingo, yay!