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Aria, Emily, Spencer, Hanna and Alison have been best friends since the third grade. They go everywhere together, thinking no-one can come between them. If anyone is the ringleader of the group it is Alison, and the other girls cannot help but confide all their secrets to her.
One night, during a sleepover, Alison goes missing. Her body is never found. The girls mourn her death but move apart after time, assuming their secrets have disappeared with Alison too.
Three years later and Aria is having an affair with her teacher; Emily is questioning her sexuality; Hanna is a thief; and Spencer is flirting with her sister's fiance. They all think their secrets are safe, until they starting receiving messages from the mysterious A - who knows exactly what they are all up to, and is threatening to spill the beans . . .
After the queen bee of their clique mysteriously disappears during a slumber party on the last day of seventh grade, the remaining four girls drift apart. Now, three years later, the Rosewood, Pa., former pals are practically strangers, but still plagued by the secrets that they shared with Alison\x97and new scandals they are trying to keep under wraps. Then they each start receiving cryptic messages from someone named "A" who seems to know everything, and makes them wonder, "Was sheback ?" The four girls are fairly standard types: there is free-spirited Aria, overachiever Spencer, good-girl Emily, a star swimmer, and glamorous Hanna. Their scandals, too, echo the over-the-top fare typical of guilty pleasure books: Aria is having an affair with her new AP English teacher, for example, while Emily finds that kissing a girl "felt a zillion times different than kissing" her boyfriend. Readers will certainly find enough drama to keep the pages turning (one girl battles bulimia, another steals her sister's boyfriend\x97and then there's what's buried in Alison's old backyard), and they will no doubt have fun piecing together who and what could be behind those bizarre messages. This is clique lit with a mystery twist: the author has spun a plethora of possibilities sure to make readers reach for the next installment in this planned four-book series\x97and beyond. Ages 14-up.