Marshall Cavendish, 2012
YA; Contemporary; Issues
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
For some reason, I had gotten the impression that this book was about a girl in an abusive relationship, torn between the love she feels for the sweet boyfriend and the intense emotional and physical pain he inflicts upon her. It is definitely about strong internal conflicts but romance is only part of the plot.
Main character Stella assumed some adult responsibilities early on in life when her drug-addicted father abandoned the family; as the eldest child, she stepped up to help her mother look after her two siblings. She seems like the typical good girl with good grades, friendly to people, and a spot on the soccer team. During her senior year, she meets new girl Ruby Caroline, a brash, exciting girl and Stella finds herself caught up in Ruby's orbit even as the danger gathers.
How is Ruby trouble? Oh, let me count the ways.
1. She is possessive of Stella, alienating the pair from the rest of the school population
2. No real adult supervision or caring, allowing her to do pretty much whatever she wants.
3. Messed-up ideas about relationships
4. A penchant for older men
5. Her drug consumption. Let's talk about that a little.
In addition those, we have Stella in a pretty serious relationship, struggles over her Mexican heritage, family conflict. and her applications to colleges (or rather application to one college). I didn't feel that they received proper attention as the magnet that is Ruby drew most of the attention. She was a compelling character who popped on the page even as I saw some of her negative influences on Stella. Ruby herself is incredibly lost and the book does not neatly wrap everything up although there are optimistic hopes that these two young ladies will be able to work it out.
Overall: The sparkling Ruby helped keep me engaged in the plot even through frustrating parts and the ending was highly amusing if tonally a little different from the rest of the book.