Secrets of My Suburban Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Lauren “Ren” D’Arc’s life changed completely when Harry Potter killed her Mom. No, he didn’t jump out of a book and cast an Unforgivable Curse or anything. A case of Harry Potter books fell on her. Now her Dad moved them to the suburbs because living in the city is too painful for him, taking her away from the city she loves and the friends she knows.
Starting over as the new kid stinks but when the uber popular girl in school, Farrin, snubs her, Ren’s life starts to become even more complicated. Ren accidentally discovers Farrin’s got a secret. She’s been having an online affair with an older man! Ren is the only one who can save Farrin from herself.
Ren, by all respects should be a shallow, stereotypical character as a spoiled rich kid. Thankfully, she’s not at all. She’s a likable character who’s been given a lot of adversity and makes pretty smart decisions most of the time.
The subject of her mother’s death is touched on with sensitivity and realism and with enough sense of humor to keep it inspiring. Also, the seriousness of the danger of online predators is taken on in such a way to be entertaining with a message important for young adults to hear. I would encourage parents of teenagers who spend time alone online to give them this book.
Baratz-Logsted created fun characters in a bubble gum world with substance. She goes deeper than the “Gossip Girl” type books for young adults, and lets her sense of humor shine to making for a unique, smart story.
The mystery aspect really keeps the plot flowing. A little suspense is always good. The slightly goofy slapstick comedy as Ren comes up with a plan to save Farrin from meeting this older man in person gives levity to a dark situation necessary to keep things interesting without scaring away sensitive readers.
I’m happy to recommend SECRETS OF MY SUBURBAN LIFE.