Taylor’s life is changing: her lifelong friends, Sam and Sophie, seem to exclude her from their lives – she can’t participate in their experiments with a more grown-up image without money. When pretty, popular Kat turns her attention to Taylor she can’t believe her luck: this will be her gateway to a new, sophisticated lifestyle – a release from the repetitive cycle of worry and failure.
However, Kat is not what she seems and ruthlessly manipulates Taylor to feed both her shopping addiction and her own sense of inadequacy, leading her into the fringes of criminality and leaving her to take the blame. Taylor is rescued – physically and emotionally – by her grandfather; a rock in her sea of isolation and confusion. Kat has no such saviour and at the end of the book it is her empty damaged life that the reader feels most sympathy for.
I read this compelling and often poetic novel in one sitting – tension mounts inexorably throughout the narrative, as Taylor spirals deeper into debt and confusion. The death of Taylor’s sister, Laura, is chillingly recounted as the innocence of Taylor’s internal dialogue is starkly contrasted with the harrowing events.
The end of the novel signals hope for the future for Taylor: a reconciliation with her friends, her mother’s determination to conquer her depression and Taylor’s own catharsis in finally telling the truth about her sister’s death. But Kat can find no respite from the addiction which cushions her from the bruising realities of her sordid life.