344p. Orca. Apr. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781459802674. LC 2013954149.
Gr 10 Up—Sixteen-year-old Ella says she is not like other girls. She is a rebel: she lies, has sex, and takes naked pictures of herself. Still reeling from the fallout of her provocative art project, arrest, and acquittal of pornography charges—in Audacious (Orca 2013)—Ella is adrift. She is sleeping with Samir and leading him to believe that she is just friends with David, though that is not exactly true. "Isn't that the point?/To Frankenstein/Two boys together/Making a perfect boyfriend?" she asks. But a boyfriend will not fix Ella's desire for identity and acceptance, and things fall apart in a predictable way. This novel in verse is a quick read, thanks to the format and the dramatic plot. Prendergast varies the style of the narrative, seamlessly integrating rhymed couplets, acrostics, and more. The narrative feels inflated at times, as Samir deals with his estranged gay brother, David copes with his brother's drug addiction, and Ella navigates myriad thorny relationships. The secondary characters are largely reduced to two-dimensional traits (the Muslim boy, the asthmatic sister, the wise disabled friend), but Ella stands out as realistic and nuanced. Though Ella's story is one of alienation and discontent, it ends on a hopeful note as she begins to repair her relationships and her own fragile sense of self-worth. Her candid approach to sex, lies, and friendship should attract a wide audience, especially readers who are drawn to deep and sometimes dark issues.—Amanda MacGregor, formerly at Apollo High School Library, St. Cloud, MN
In this sequel, Ella (of the vagina self-portrait that got her into so much trouble in Audacious) is juggling the affections of Samir--whose devout Muslim upbringing forbids him from openly dating her--and straight-arrow(ish) David. She's also trying to protect her little sister, who, in Ella's opinion, is growing up too fast. Flawed heroine Ella's whip-smart observations add immediacy to this verse novel.

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