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Because ​her aerobics-star mother is taking her famous weight-loss program to Europe, 15-year-old Colie leaves her home in Charlotte to spend the summer with her endearing but uncompromisingly unusual Aunt Mira in coastal Colby, NC. Colie has recently dropped 45 pounds, but unlike her positive-thinking mother, the teen has not succeeded in shedding her negative self-image. With this change of scene, she hopes to escape her role as social victim. Unfortunately, Mira attracts lots of negative gossip. Worse still is the reappearance of Colie’s hometown nemesis who continues to spread slanderous rumors about her. Colie feels hopeless until she accepts a job in a restaurant, where two fellow waitresses, both past their high school angst, share their beauty, boy, and life-management secrets with her. Sincere, perfectionist Morgan and the more flamboyant Isabel are great characters and the workings of their friendship is smooth, insightful, and just fun to read. The nifty and not-so-nifty relationships between men and women are observed through the eyes of a teen just on the verge of exploring such things on her own level. The love interests are varied, from a deceitful professional athlete for Morgan to a sincere artist surviving as a short-order cook for Colie. Through it all, readers are shown that “ya-ya” type friendships are a balm to protect young women while they’re kissing toads they thought were princes. Teens will just want to cheer when Colie realizes that she has always had within what people were looking for externally.

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