In the midst of summer-fun books, Wittlinger hits with an intense drama full of pain and emotion. Sandpiper is the story of a girl most of us know—and have maybe even scorned—at our own schools.
Sandpiper is forgetting who she is. She used to be a good, normal girl like everyone else, but then she got involved with boy after boy and quickly developed a reputation. Right on cue, her best friends dumped her. Now her mother is getting married, her father is still chasing skirts, and the boys she used to "date" are out for revenge, calling her a tease. She has no one to turn to, until she spots the Walker, a mysterious new boy in town who is always walking somewhere. As the boys' harassment of Sandpiper gets worse, the intense secrets the Walker is hiding threaten to surface.
The opening pages provide a shock, as Sandpiper talks frankly about what she does sexually to the boys. It might not surprise older teens because it's honest—but younger teens and their parents might be uncomfortable. Wittlinger has written a rich, fully realized story about a girl who might gladly play by the rules, if she only knew what they were. YA readers will be able to relate to the guilt and self-loathing that both Sandpiper and the Walker feel. (Jul., 240 pp., $16.95)