A great deal of the book deals with Mina's sociology class, where a project forces the students to confront their prejudices head-on and and discuss family matters, racial identity, social status, and more. As the girls in her group visit each other's homes, they realize how vastly different their neighborhoods and backgrounds are, and that first impressions can be deceiving. While some books would make them all become buddy-buddy after this experiment, that is not necessarily the case here.
This is only one example of what makes Paula Chase's YA debut so realistic. Another would be Lizzie's awkwardness around the school's leading actress, who is prone to giving backhanded compliments. As four freshman start being pulled in different directions, tempers flare. Fights between friends can be worse that those with enemies. Lizzie and Mina find themselves at odds, as do Michael and JZ.
Unlike other clique-y books, which may emphasize the negative connotation of the word 'clique' to mean 'exclusivity,' DEL RIO BAY HIGH CLIQUE simply refers to the core group of friends. Also unlike similarly-titled stories, SO NOT THE DRAMA is a multi-layered story. High school is a vast ocean, and it's easy to get caught up in the current. It's just as easy to get caught up in this book. Urban, gritty, contemporary, and thoughtful.
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Read my interview with Paula Chase!