Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

I hadn’t wanted to go, but my parents were so excited…. So here I am, the new girl at Manderley, a true fish out of water. But mine’s not the name on everyone’s lips. Oh, no.

It’s Becca Normandy they can’t stop talking about. Perfect, beautiful Becca. She went missing at the end of last year, leaving a spot open at Manderley—the spot that I got. And everyone acts like it’s my fault that infallible, beloved Becca is gone and has been replaced by not perfect, completely fallible, unknown Me.

Then, there’s the name on my lips—Max Holloway. Becca’s ex. The one boy I should avoid, but can’t. Thing is, it seems like he wants me, too. But the memory of Becca is always between us. And as much as I’m starting to like it at Manderley, I can’t help but think she’s out there, somewhere, watching me take her place.

Waiting to take it back.

Let me first just say, I’ve never read Rebecca. New Girl is a retelling/modernization of it. I’m honestly not sure how much it pulls from the original, so I’m not going to compare them. From what I gather though, they are completely different books with the same basic storyline. *For the sake of the review I’m going to refer to the main character as NG, her real name isn’t revealed until the very end.*

Now that I have that out of the way, before I picked New Girl up, several people were saying negative things about it. I was kind of hesitant to pick it up, I’m swamped with books and reviews that NEED done right away so I figured I could do so at a later date. Then I decided because I loved Harbison’s first book Here Lies Bridget, I would go ahead and tackle it. I am so happy I didn’t wait.

NG has finally gotten into the boarding school of her childhood dreams, but she no longer really wants to go there. She’s happy with her life, she has a great home, family, and loves her friends. Plus who really would want to go to a boarding school their senior year of high school?!?

I loved the character, NG. She’s your basic typical teenage girl. She’s unhappy about the situation, but has decided to make the best of it. I’d probably whine a bit too if I was in her situation. This usually turns me off, but in NG’s case I felt it went along with the her personality. Yes, she probably should’ve just been honest with her parents in the first place. Instead she bit her tongue and feigned that she was happy. I, personally, would’ve done the same exact thing at her age. I didn’t like to cause any sort of unnecessary drama. (I’m still that way today, but am a bit more outspoken than I used to be.)

Then there is Becca, the other main character of New Girl. I’m fascinated by her. I would love to read something more in depth about her BEFORE she went to Manderley. She’s slightly crazy and, in my opinion, fun.

The students at the school bothered me a bit. I get they missed Becca, she had started school there and then completely changed their entire outlook on life. They loved her. What bugged me was their lack of acceptance of NG. I understand why, but at the same time…grrr! Oh, Max, I liked him, really. I just wanted to slap him for that very reason.

One of the major complaints I’ve seen that I really would like to address is the amount of sex, drinking, and drugs…Yes, they take place in the book. Does every student in the world have sex, drink, or do drugs while in high school? No. But let’s face it, many do. We don’t know that EVERY student at this school was partaking, in fact, it’s kind of obvious to me that they weren’t. New Girl was about the students that WERE. There is a crowd like that in every school, it’s just how it is. Let’s face it, there was nothing in New Girl that teens aren’t already exposed to.

Is New Girl going to be for everyone? No, but I have to say I really enjoyed it.

I received New Girl from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Please note any links in the above post may be to affiliates. Any purchases made will provide Letters Inside Out a small percentage back.

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  1. April says:

    Awesome review! I’t’s nice to be able to see the other side of the coin – reviews from people who enjoyed the book and hadn’t read Du Maurier’s Rebecca. I think that makes a big difference – at least for me, I would’ve gone with a completely different mindset, as it was I couldn’t’ get the comparisons out of my head.

    I’m glad you liked it , I definitely agree with you about the sex and drinking. I thought it was really well handled for a YA book. I found it very relatable to my own high school years. I had to read parts over again to be sure what I thought was happening actually happened LOL so it was very subtle.

    It’s definitely one of those books that people should read and figure for themselves if they enjoy it or not – I think many people will, just like you did . :)

    I really liked the end, it made me smile :D

    <3 April

  2. Amber M says:

    Awesome review! Like you, I’ve been hearing some really negative things about this one and wasn’t sure I’d like it. I think I’m going to give it a chance now!

  3. roro says:

    RAD review
    i loved it felt real for me
    tnx 4 reviewing

  4. Mandi Kaye says:

    Great review! I had a hard time reviewing this one because I loved the writing but I really disliked all of the characters except for NG. It’s fun to see the differing opinions that others hold.

  5. Kat says:

    I read New Girl last week – I really enjoyed it too! I would have liked to know more about Becca as well, but it also adds to the mystery not knowing so much about her background.

    NG was a good character – not too whiny but also stood up for herself when she needed to.

    Personally, I think the alcohol & “funky-time” was necessary for the story – otherwise the characters (particularly Becca) would not have been nearly as convincing.

    • Amanda says:

      The mystery DOES add to the story, but I’d love a short story, novella, or even another book to add more to her story. Just a bit more insight into her character!

  6. Molli says:

    I wish my review was your review. You said everything so eloquently! I liked parts of this book, and it had me frantically turning the pages, which is of the good. But I thought the way the author handled the various sexual situations was very immature and off-putting. I also thought Becca was crazy-cakes, but rather interesting in that way that I could imagine a therapist getting an earful from her!

    Great review, Amanda!

  7. Great review. I think I really want to read this one.

    Drugs in books bothers the stuffings out of me, and yet I have found that when I push past that part, the author usually brings it around full circle. Valiant by Holly Black and Going Bovine by Libba Bray both had drugs, but the end of the book, I was cheering for the characters that overcame their addictions. It was beautifully done.

  8. I absolutely loved New Girl and because of it I watched the movie Rebecca and now I am reading Rebecca. It really impacted me and I think it’s just amazing.

    I agree with you about teens today – a lot of them are exposed to sex, drugs, and alcohol, so me personally, I have no problem with those things in a novel and we all know that even though there are teens who don’t do these things, they still know about them. There are very few sheltered teens and even pre-teens these days.

    I’m kind of curious where you heard the negativity about this book before you read it. I hadn’t been exposed to any of that and the reviews I’ve read so far have been positive for the most part.

    Fantastic review!

  9. Bext says:

    Like I already knew — awesome review, Gnome-Master. Your thoughts are awesome. High Five for enjoying it! *high fives*

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