ByZulay Regalado, 20, reporting from Miami, and Jessica Goodman, 19, reporting from Los Angeles, on gripping new books that solve various mysteries—of murder and high school hallways.
Whatever the so-called reality TV shows and movies set in high school hallways present, the truth is that the dramas most teenage girls go through consist of the occasional backstab or heartbreak.
The Diamonds, by Ted Michael, does an excellent job of covering these small-scale (but big-pain) everyday issues. It's a gem of a coming of age story when so many books about high school students just seem so naïve and shallow.
One of the themes in the book that really stuck with me was trust. The characters learn, through every conversation and every event, who's really on their side. Marni Valentine, for example, used to be a part of Bennington High School's coolest crowd, known, of course, as the Diamonds. Then she got involved with her best friend Clarissa's boyfriend, Anderson—and went from most popular to most loathed in a matter of seconds.
But pieces of the puzzle slowly come together, and Marni's ex-best friend was never innocent. Without giving away too much of the story, it's a lesson that teaches you to watch your back, keep your eyes on the prize, and be careful of who you choose to confide in.
I think any girl in high school should pick up this book, and I also recommend it for college freshmen and sophomores like myself—because it reminds you how far you've come since the days when only popularity was a priority. —Jessica Goodman
As a child, I lived for the thrill of the unknown in a book—sitting under the covers with my hurricane flashlight, eyes glued to the text. Now I still crave the books that can keep me up and guessing. And Catherine Cooney's If the Witness Lied did its job.
There's a dark family (and dark modern media) story at its heart: The Fountain siblings are orphans, and speculation swirls around the circumstances of their parents' deaths. The private tragedy has brought much unwanted public attention upon the family, causing the siblings to part ways to deal with their individual pain.
Unfortunately for them, their Aunt Cheryl believes the way to get through the grief is to share it with the world: She's in talks with a television producer to film a reality docudrama on the family.
The siblings reunite to try and stop Aunt Cheryl from exploiting them—and portraying their baby brother as a killer. They also make some interesting realizations along the way that change their perception of the truth as they've known it. So, in addition to brewing some really enjoyable suspense and a slightly deranged aunt, this book is about overcoming issues within ourselves and coming together for a better purpose. And what better purpose is there than protecting those you love?
It's an ideal read, and though I've traded in my flashlight for a standard lamp, the electric air of mystery remains. — Zulay Regalado