Emma Lazar has laid claim to the title of “Emma the Good” for years. She has always been determined to be the perfect daughter to her widowed dad as he pursues his psychiatric career from city to city. Now a junior, Emma can think of nothing better than to land in sunny L.A and begin school at the prestigious Latimer Country Day. But something happens to Emma’s reliable moral compass from her first day in her new life: The more she seeks to make the transformation to the California girl of her dreams, the more she begins to lose her way.
The lies start almost immediately and soon become a way of life. Emma teams up with Siobhan, an intense, sophisticated and bored classmate who loves to skip class, party and flirt with increasingly risky behavior. Siobhan believes in pacts and lists, and she comes up with a list of experiences for Emma to check off before the infamous year-end Latimer Afterparty, guaranteed to put fear into a father’s heart: “Make out. Do shots. Get stoned. Climb out windows. Go to many many parties. Hook up. Hook up all the way. Finish and we go to Afterparty.”
But even as Emma crosses off the milestones on her list, and strays from the “Good Emma” of the past, she begins to gain confidence in setting her own course and making the decisions that are right for her. What she doesn’t anticipate is Siobhan’s violent reaction to what she perceives as Emma’s betrayal of their friendship pact.
Readers will root for Emma as she negotiates difficult choices and a first romance, and grapples with finding her moral compass. But in her heartbreaking portrayal of Siobhan, a young woman spinning out of control with no one able to catch her—not even her best friend—author Ann Redisch Stampler reminds us that losing a friendship can be just as painful as a failed romance.