Choker by Elizabeth Woods (NY: Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2011).
Cara Lange sits with her track teammates at lunch, but doesn't really connect with any of them. She still misses her best friend Zoe from when she was younger. She and Zoe lost contact after Cara's family moved to a different house in 5th grade, and Cara has never really made another friend, just acquaintances. So when Zoe shows up on Cara's doorstep and asks to stay for a few days, Cara is delighted to reconnect and have someone to talk to about what's going on at school, where she is being bullied by the mean girls. Just having Zoe around boosts Cara's confidence and she starts standing up for herself more, even when the mean girls are calling her "Choker" after a cafeteria mishap where super hotty Ethan, who Cara's been crushing on all year, saves her life. Zoe sympathizes and talks Cara out of her doldrums. Cara's parents are never around, so it's easy enough to keep Zoe hidden in her room, and Cara would be totally happy, except that first one classmate and then another is killed. Could Zoe be a murderer? As the few days of Zoe's visit lengthen into weeks, Cara becomes more and more suspicious.
Elizabeth Woods has crafted a suspenseful psychological thriller that's sure to keep readers turning the pages. The characters are well drawn and engaging, even the stereotypical mean girls. Highly recommended for teens, ages 13 & up. Sex, alcohol, language.
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