Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Julie Berry
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Seven silly, sly, and slightly scurrilous students solve some serious situations at school. The headmistress and her brother have been poisoned at the dining table, but none of these talented and tenacious young women want to go home. This desire requires the sisterhood to conceal the demise of their lackluster guardians, a task which the girls set out resolutely to do. They must also determine who the murderer is. Could it be one of them? If not, who? Lies, mistakes, and fate itself combine against them as they unite into a cohesive coalition of curls who want to stay together at all (well, almost all) costs. Romance and recrimination befall them, but also provide the lovable ladies with rescue and reformation.
This is a hilarious and oddly sweet story. It begins with a brief editorial on the background of each girl deposited at St. Etheldreda's School for Young Women. This provides insight into the home life they have escaped and wish to avoid returning to, and almost allows the reader to understand their outrageous decision to bury the bodies and maintain an appearance of normalcy. The solutions and resolute determination of the girls is at odds with their prim education and adaptable morality. The love and commitment that the girls have for each other is their saving grace that endears them to the reader's heart. Well written, great fallible characters with their own redeeming strengths, and a mystery to solve.