It has been over three weeks since I've read this book... and I'm still thinking about it. It wasn't the most amazing story I've ever read, and I can't say that I particularly liked any of the characters... still, it was GOOD. And strikingly well-written.
Plum is a socially awkward 14 year old girl who idolizes her older brothers and secretly dreams that someday she will be as amazing as her ethereal next door neighbor. When the neighbor, Maureen, invites Plum over for her son's 5th birthday, a whole new world is opened to Plum. For the first time someone has taken an interest in her, purchased her a beautiful dress, and is teaching her how to be slender, beautiful, and cosmopolitan. Plum has a group of girlfriends at school who mostly just tolerate her presence. Through confidence built by Maureen, Plum decides to have the girls over for a birthday sleepover. When something disastrous occurs, Plum descends into a spiral of depression. And just when she couldn't get even lower, the people she idolizes most, her two older brothers and neighbor Maureen disappoint her in a way that opens her eyes more widely to the cruel world of being grown-up.
Who would I recommend this book to? Honestly, adults who like to read YA. That's partially why I think it could be an award winner... in the past, certain YA literature awards leaned heavily toward adult fiction disguised as teen fiction. Truly though, you could give it to teens who enjoy reading beautifully written stories. There were some lines that we just so beautiful, I had to read them twice.