Picks and Pans Review: Gossip of the Starlings

updated 06/16/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/16/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Nina de Gramont |

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Don't let the obscure title (it's from a Shel Silverstein poem, but who'll get that?) or the prep school heroine's name (Skye Butterfield, so Gossip Girl) put you off: Gramont's debut novel is the kind of smart and riveting read that fans of a certain kind of campus drama—think Donna Tartt's The Secret History—will devour. Set at the fictional Esther Percy academy in Massachusetts, it's the story of a doomed friendship between two dangerous girls: Skye, a senator's daughter with charisma and boundary-testing impulses to spare, and the quieter Catherine, a serious equestrian with weaknesses for cocaine and Skye's volatile charms. There's romance, betrayal, a gorgeous scholarship boy and a spot-on rendering of the queasy regret you sometimes feel when friends from separate orbits meet. Grab this one and share it with your teenage daughter.

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