While Annabel Greene may star in the local department store’s back to school commercial as “The girl who has everything”, she returns to school utterly ostracised, after a summer spent alone, after a disastrous party late last term where everything changed for her.
When she runs into her former best friend Sophie, undisputed Queen Bee at their school, she is met with insults and sharp comments. When she thinks back to that one night when Sophie turned against her, she throws up. The only one she sees regularly now, not that they ever speak, is the mysterious Owen Armstrong, rumoured to have a serious temper, enough to have sent him on a stint to juvie.
Despite the fact that Annabel has gone from being one of the most popular girls in school to an utter outcast, she doesn’t share any of this with her family. Nor does say anything to her mother about wanting to quit modelling, even though Annabel hasn’t really enjoyed doing it for ages now. Annabel is the youngest of three, with both of her older sisters having very strong personalities. Annabel became the peacekeeper, the one who tells white lies and omits to share her own discomfort just so others won’t ever feel hurt or uncomfortable. Her mother struggled with depression for a while, and Annabel is terrified that now that her sisters have both quit modelling, her mother will descend back into depression if Annabel too announces that she doesn’t want to do it anymore.
Annabel’s eldest sister Kirsten is a waitress/hostess in New York and studies communication part-time. She briefly shared a flat with their middle sister, Whitney, who had a very successful run modelling in the Big Apple and developed an eating disorder that left her unconscious on the bathroom floor, her emaciated body having gone into shut down. Annabel was the one who found her. Now, months later, Whitney lives at home, carefully supervised by her parents and forced into a healthy eating regime and therapy she bristles against. Even if Annabel felt that she could talk about the things that have happened to her, she doesn’t really have anyone to open up to.
Eventually, Owen and Annabell start chatting during their shared lunches, and Annabell is shocked to discover that Owen never lies and strives to be honest in all things. He’s been through a lot of anger management and has learned to sift through the sort of polite deflections most people offer when they don’t want to be put on the spot. Through her friendship with Owen, Annabel is forced to re-evaluate her own approach to life and especially truth-telling, and she keeps having her eyes opened to new experiences thanks to Owen’s truly eclectic tastes in music. Being as open and honest as Owen is utterly terrifying, however, and Annabel is already shunned and reviled by pretty much everyone. How much worse would it be if people knew what actually happened at that party back in the spring?
Full review here.