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Readers Advisory: #scandal by Sarah Ockler

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Simon Pulse, $17.99 hardbound, ISBN-10 1481401246, June 2014

Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time. When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral. By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation. Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate. There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love.

Ockler has so many plotlines going on in this book, you’ll feel like you’re reading a Facebook feed. There’s the social media scandal, the BFF’s ex-BF who wants Lucy to be his new GF, the hot foreign exchange student who lurves her, the angry BFF, the boy-crazy other BFF, the school Luddite association trying to use Lucy as a poster girl, the unhappy and clueless school administration… The list goes on. Somehow, Ockler manages to hold it together for the most part and even slip in a few messages about the impossibility of privacy in an online age with a minimum of didacticism. Although the celebrity sister aspect comes off as pretty far-fetched (Lucy’s big sis is prime time soap star Jayla Heart), the repercussions of Lucy’s innocent mistakes are realistic. The love story suffers a bit from the hero spending a lot of time offstage and the presence of two more likable male characters, one a gorgeous French Canadian who adores Lucy, the other a quirky Brit who runs the school paper and shares many Veronica Mars in-jokes with Lucy. Cole doesn’t quite measure up.

Overall, this is a quick, fairly high-interest read with enough quirky characters for a John Hughes film.

Recommend to: Chick lit fans

To buy or not to buy: Good choice for large YA departments

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