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Schneider, Robyn. Better than yesterday.

SCHNEIDER, Robyn. Better than yesterday. Random House, Delacorte. 220p. c2007. 978-0-385-73345-8. $15.99. S

YA novels frequently use a journey as a vehicle for the protagonist's exploration and maturation. In this case, the protagonists, four friends, don't go far: from their upper-crust private school, Hilliard Academy, to the streets of New York. One of their group, Blake, mysteriously disappeared after his freshman year, then reappeared in his senior year. Yet, he is troubled and in spite of his happy-go-lucky manner he is in emotional turmoil. Soon he ditches school and heads for parties in the Big Apple. His friends--Skylar, "the school slut"; Charlie, "the school grind"; and Marissa, "the school nerd"--quickly risk their academic standing to find and reclaim him. They do this by scoping out various parties on the New York City college scene, all while staying in a luxury hotel. In the process, Skylar shows she is brilliant and courageous and not slutty at all. Charlie comes out from under the thumb of his dominating father, and both Skylar and Charlie come to appreciate Marissa's uniqueness. Skylar and Charlie take turns as the narrative voice, and each is distinctive and amusing. The book is rife with cultural allusions to shopping icons such as Prada, iPods, and Sex and the City. This is life among the pubescent wealthy and worldly. The themes are friendship and independence. Sexual liaisons and drugs and drinking are a humming undertone but never depicted in the manner of, say, Prep. In the end, all is well and all four are headed to the colleges of their choice. It's not deep, but this is an escape novel with a message. Myrna Marler, Assoc. Prof., BYU, Laie, HI

S--Recommended for senior high school students.
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Author:Marler, Myrna
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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