Harlequin Teen, Aug 28 2012, $9.99
Sixteen years old Chelsea takes pride over being a gossip who cannot keep a secret and her status as number one BFF to the high school’s queen Kristen. At a New Year’s Eve party, an intoxicated Chelsea sees Noah making out with a boy she does not recognize. Nauseated she announces what she saw. Joey and Warren say they will talk to Noah. Soon afterward, Noah ends up in the hospital unconscious after a horrific beating in a parking lot.
Kristen warns Chelsea to remain silent or else they all will be in trouble not just Joey and Warren who the BFFs assume assaulted Noah. Feeling guilty she tells her dad. At school, Chelsea becomes persona non grata as a RAT. Vowing to never again gossip, an ostracized Chelsea feels her fall from grace but begins to make new friends.
This is an intriguing teen character study starring a strong cast as seen through Chelsea’s firsthand account. Although Chelsea’s change of attitude even with fallbacks seems mentally too easy (even a trauma leaves habits hard to break) and abrupt, young teen readers will appreciate this deep look at the wide impact of hate crimes in which silence supports the violence.