Author:  Kristin Hubbard
ISBN:  978-0-385-73935-1

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When a small-town girl with dreams and aspirations, but with a “clean” record thus far, gets involved with a girl who will stop at nothing to get out and get moving no matter who pays for it, meet up - a plot is created that offers readers mystery, suspense, and a look at a slightly obsessive relationship that could end up ruining lives.

Grace is our main character, who spent the early years of her life being her mother’s “puppet.” Every month they packed up their pink hatchback and traveled from crappy town to even crappier town in order to perform in these ridiculous beauty contests. Grace’s mother’s dream was for her daughter to win every pageant that came along. She wanted nothing more than to instill in Grace the love of horri
ble costumes, caked-on makeup, and delivering song and dance performances that could lead her to be the next Miss Teen USA. Grace went along with this slightly demented world until she reached the age of seven when, standing and performing in her own small-town pageant held in the dust-soaked winds of Washokey, Wyoming, Grace lifted her Scarlett O’Hara skirt over her head and went "nuts” on stage. That was the last day her mother made her do anything remotely involved in the pageant world - and the first day young Grace saw Mandarin Ramsey.

is now a sophomore in high school and is still highly upset. She wants to grow up to be nothing like her mother, who settled for this horrific small town life in the middle of nowhere. Grace dreams of getting out. The only thing she ever concentrates on are collecting various sizes and shapes of rocks which she sees as her good luck amulets, and writing. She’s waited forever for the results of an essay contest that her school was running, but with a broken heart she receives the news that she’s come in as runner-up, second place behind a jock who she knows can’t even spell, let alone write. She wanted to win so bad. With the essay contest came a trip to Washington, D.C. - a chance to get out of her private hell. The only thing that Washokey can claim is the second biggest jackalope statue in West Wyoming and the time when three people were killed in what the national news called the “hippie massacre of 68.”

Grace also spends her time trying desperately to help her younger sister Taffeta. Taffy is now the apple of her mother’s eye and she’s the one that is starring in every pageant around. The difference between the two girls is that Taffy actually loves pageants and wants to do the performing; she loves the acclaim and has the over-developed ego to prove it.

Through twists and turns of fate, Grace is assigned to help tutor Mandarin Ramsey - a senior who absolutely everyone in the school talks about. From the “wrong side of town” Mandarin is a mystery to everyone, including parents and teachers. She is unbelievably beautiful and works serving drinks in a bar even though she’s underage. All men want her, and Mandarin with her cold, hard, brittle, sarcastic exterior soon becomes Grace’s idol. Grace wants to be her so badly, she can hardly breathe when Mandarin is around, and feels so lucky that she is becoming known by other students as Mandarin’s friend.
As the story unfolds, a web of lies, gossip, and the dreams of growing up and moving on - begin to harm the girls' odd friendship.  Each and every chapter is a fantastic lesson taught by this author as she lets young adults know that if they always keep an eye on the horizon and look ahead - they’ll miss what and who are around them every day. Although the future is exciting - the present, my friends, is something you can’t get back. Great words, great characters, and an unforgettable story. Enjoy!

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