Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has always been a loner, even more so since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, a few years ago. Cara mostly spends her time avoiding the popular girls who call her 'choker' after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria, and watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her.
Then one day Cara comes home and finds Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With Zoe back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and before she can blink, Cara is flirting with Ethan and getting invited to parties. And best of all, she has her best friend to confide in again.
But just as quickly as Cara's life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect ~ including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving very strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to be able to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?
Life has not been easy for 16-year-old Cara, who's all but ignored at school and at home, with attorney parents who are almost always at work. After popular girls Alexis and Sydney begin to taunt her with the nickname "Choker" following an incident in the cafeteria, Cara is at her breaking point when her childhood friend Zoe shows up out of nowhere, saying she ran away from her abusive stepfather and begging to hide in Cara's room. At first it is comforting to have Zoe around, but it soon becomes a chore to cater to her unpredictable moods and jealous behavior. The speed with which the book's events take a turn for the worse and then for the better within a week, Cara almost chokes to death, Zoe shows up after a seven-year absence, one mean girl dies, another disappears, and Cara's social life improves drastically may clue some readers in that something is up; a twist ending redeems debut author Woods's psychological thriller somewhat. But an overall lack of plausibility robs the story of much of its tension. Ages 14 up.