Underneath Everything is a seductive, gorgeously written debut about two girls bound by an obsessive and toxic friendship, perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver and Courtney Summers.
Mattie shouldn't be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason. But now Mattie is a senior, and she's sick of missing things. So here she is. And there's Jolene: Beautiful. Captivating. Just like the stories she wove. Mattie would know—she used to star in them. She and Jolene were best friends. Mattie has the scar on her palm to prove it, and Jolene has everything else, including Hudson.
But when Mattie runs into Hudson and gets a glimpse of what could have been, she decides to take it all back: the boyfriend, the friends, the life she was supposed to live. Problem is, Mattie can't figure out where Jolene's life ends and hers begins. Because there's something Mattie hasn't told anyone: She walked away from Jolene over a year ago, but she never really left.
During her freshman and sophomore years of high school, Mattie was part of a popular, somewhat wild group of girls; when ringleader Jolene's pranks turned cruel and dangerous, Mattie and her friend Kris left the pack for the "fantastic, untouchable status as Nobodies." Now a senior, Mattie finds herself drawn back into her old circle of friends. She is unable to ignore Jolene's magnetism (and frequent text messages) and has trouble resisting the boy Jolene stole from her. Exploring the effects of mind games and obsessive yearnings on a vulnerable teen, first-time author Paul's writing has a dreamlike quality that will keep readers wondering how much is imagined and how much is real. Jolene is cast as a spiderlike villainess, luring less vibrant victims into her web. The effect she has on her targets is painfully clear, yet her motives are cloudy. Mattie, vacillating between wanting to be invisible and needing to be an object of interest and desire, is as complicated as Jolene, making what lies "underneath everything" difficult to discern. Ages 14 up.