Abandoned by her mother and brought up by her grandmother, Aleksandra has had a very sheltered upbringing with few friends, no boyfriends, straight-A's and boyish, unflattering clothes to hide any suggestion of her burgeoning curves. When her gran dies, she discovers a whole new life - her absent mother, who steps up to the mark and takes her in, a new BFF and a brand new "sexed-up" look.
Lacking in self confidence and awareness, she soon gets in with a group of party girls who hide a more sinister underworld of drugs, drink and teenage prostitution behind their bubbly, smiley, outer personas. Before she realises what is going on, she's in way too deep to get out unscathed, but she finds the inner strength, along with a support network of caring friends that she never knew she had, that enable her to take on the bullies and make a stand for girls like her who are being used and abused.
It's a well-written, believable and unsettling account of a vulnerable teenager getting in with the wrong crowd with disastrous consequences. It's easy to believe how quickly and simply things spiral out of control for Alek, all without her parents ever having the slightest inkling what was going on. The book was banned in Italy (it's translated from Italian) and while I think this is ludicrous, because it is an important and valuable cautionary tale for both young adults and their parents, I wouldn't really feel comfortable giving it to my own teen daughter to read because of the subject matter and its fairly graphic sexual content. It certainly shouldn't be banned though.
star rating : 4.5/5
Disclosure : I received a copy of the book in order to write an honest review.