Wednesday, April 26, 2023

The Falling Girls, by Hayley Krischer

Shade and Jadis have always been there for each other.  United in their distaste for the popular kids and things like Homecoming and Prom, they have enjoyed being outsiders.  But Shade is changing.  She thinks she might like to belong to a group after all.  She misses the gymnastics she excelled at when she was young and regrets never having made it on the cheerleading team.  So, she decides to try out.

She is surprised to find that she is actually warmly received.  Even the "three Chloes" (queen Chloe Orbach, insecure Chloe Schmidt, and pleaser Chloe Clarke) who rule the cheer team accept her as a team member.  Jadis is shocked though and feels betrayed.  She warns Shade that she's being exploited but Shade doesn't care.  And to everyone's surprise, Shade and Chloe Orbach grow surprisingly close, upsetting the prevailing social hierarchy.

Then, at the Homecoming dance, while the girls are experimenting with Ecstasy, Chloe Orbach collapses and dies.  Suspicion falls on Jadis (who supplied the drugs) and Shade (who connected them).  But would Jadis really try to kill her perceived competition?  All signs seem to indicate so, but Shade isn't sure she believes it  Jadis meanwhile tries to warn Shade that the remaining Chloes are out to frame them.

A taut psychological thriller about adolescent insecurity and the depths that girls will go to in order to preserve their friendships and their place in the social hierarchy.  Less exploitative than other novels in the genre, I was taken by the complex relationships between the girls.  I also liked the way the adults were portrayed, with greater-than-usual multi-dimensionality.

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