The Darlings are Forever by Melissa Kantor (NY: Hyperion, 2011).
Jane, Victoria, and Natalya are best friends facing a challenge--they're starting high school now, but at three different schools in NYC! Can they maintain their close connection? Jane will be attending a performing arts high school and is immediately drawn into multiple dramas of all types, including a role in the fall production of A Midsummer Night's Dream with a totally crushworthy director. Victoria will attend a magnet school close to her home, but her dad is running for the Senate and she has to step outside her comfort zone in many ways to support him. Still, she also wants to be true to herself. Natalya is anxious about fitting in as a scholarship student at an exclusive prep school. She's got brains, but can she distinguish between real friends and self-involved rich girls who are only interested in meeting Victoria?
This would have been a good middle grade story about friendship and transitions, but the high school setting pretty much necessitates some mild sexual situations and alcohol. Not a lot, but enough to push it into the middle school/high school level. All three girls have romantic interests as well, though Jane's is inappropriate and she has to learn a hard lesson. The girls themselves are fairly immature, and middle school readers will be able to identify with the difficulties they face and the wrong choices they make along the way. Recommended for ages 12 & up.
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