I enjoyed reading this book a lot. My only time to read is after the little kids are in bed and quiet, but I found myself thinking about this book all day long, wondering about the main character and what would happen to her next. Maya is Thai and works in her family's restaurant while a senior in high school. Her number one priority is getting into Stanford. She has a great bunch of friends, all smart kids in the Honors classes with her, who also work in the school tutoring center with her. When she is not in the restaurant she is studying or tutoring with them.
When her parents go out of town for a weekend she and her younger brother are left in charge of the restaurant. They are heady with delight at the freedom and responsibility, and everything is going well except that they decide to leave the end of the night cleanup for the next morning in order to enjoy a free, parentless weekend night. Unfortunately the health department shows up bright and early Saturday morning. The resulting fine leaves Maya with a huge burden that she is afraid to tell anyone about. How will she raise $10,000 to pay it without letting her parents know?
Camden, one of the richest, most adorable and most popular guys in the school offers to pay her to do his homework and she decides to take him up on it in order to earn the extra cash. He gets interested in her and in expanding the business, and they get drawn deeper and deeper into a pay-for-homework service that does indeed raise a lot of money. Maya's main conflict is with her struggle to protect her hoped-for future at Stanford while suppressing her ethical dilemma over the cheating and lying. She says,
"I know cheating's wrong, but it's better than being dead, right? Which is what I'd be if my parents knew about what happened. I never expected things to spin so far out of control. Or that I'd be such a sucker for Camden's lopsided grin."This is an entertaining novel that raises a lot of interesting questions. I think it would start good discussions in a book club for teens. I would love to hear what young adult readers think of the book.
The Compulsive Reader (contest for a signed copy)
Interview at Slayground
June contest giveaway at The Story Siren (comment on her June 26 post)