FICTION

The Accidental Bad Girl

384p. Amulet. May 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781419728587.
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Gr 9 Up—Kendall used to be a "good girl"—an honors student, math and science wiz, and a member of a trio of "it" girls at Howell Preparatory, an elite school attended by Brooklyn's upper echelon. Responsible, attractive, smart, and self-sufficient are all adjectives that would've been used to describe her prior to the day she got "caught" with her best friend's ex-boyfriend at the end of her junior year. Ostracized, Kendall starts senior year counting down the days until graduation. Just as she is beginning to settle into what she believes will be a year of scornful isolation, she is attacked by a mysterious girl in the school bathroom. To add insult to injury, someone has hacked her Facebook page, and Kendall suddenly is framed for stealing from a drug dealer. Blackmailed into partnering with the dealer to deliver drugs until she can prove her innocence, the protagonist embraces her "bad girl" facade in a wayward attempt to salvage her fractured reputation. This is a simmering, angsty take on the whodunit genre. Kendall introspectively wears the "bad girl" mask while grappling with what it means to be one. The delineation between good and bad characters is blurred, which makes for a great read and lively discussions about decision making and choices. Kaplan cleverly addresses sexuality, gender bias, identity, and rape culture in this page turner that is classic YA mystery with an undercurrent of sex-positive feminism.
VERDICT Recommended for school and public libraries serving older teens.

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