She's So Money by Cherry Cheva 2008
IQ "They say when you're about to die, your entire life flashes before your eyes. Well, now I know that when you're about to kill someone, the same thing happens. Except that instead of your entire life, it's just the moments you had spent with that person, and as every moment flashes, by it now contains a chain saw." Maya pg. 251
Just a bit of an excerpt of the hilarity that provides a constant laugh throughout She's So Money. No worries, Maya doesn't kill anyone!
Maya is a senior in high school and she's completely dedicated to her grades and being a good girl. She's determined to get a scholarship so that she can get as far away from Michigan as possible and her dream school is Stanford. Maya's parents are very protective, and she has to work at their Thai restaurant from right after school until closing time, which leaves very little time for getting schoolwork done, but somehow she keeps getting good grades. When her parents go away for a weekend, they leave Maya in charge of the restaurant and her brother, Nat. Disaster strikes and now Maya needs to make $10,000 in a month and a half. That's where Camden comes in. Camden is a cute, popular jock whose full of himself and couldn't care less about his grades. And he's exactly the right person to help Maya. "And now that Maya's playing the bad girl (lying, cheating, swindling and um, shopping), she might as well do it right and flirt with the bad boy" (the last line was taken from the back cover, the rest is my summary).
She's So Money is such a good book! Slightly predictable, but only a small bit and you don't mind the part that is. The ending was definitely unexpected and I really liked how Maya's actions had CONSEQUENCES! It can really get on my nerves sometimes how in fictional books (not just YA, this happens in adult fiction too) they all live happily ever after with very few bumps on the road. That's not real life. This book is real life. Maya makes a mistake and she does have to pay for it. Everyone knows a Maya, a Camden, a Nat, a Sarah (one of Maya's best friends), a Leonard (although he is crazy and a complete surprise!) etc. We see them everyday in the crowded hallways of high school. The plot was very original and Camden is an evil (not even evil, he's just too awesome to call evil!) genius. The plan that Camden and Maya come up with is really interesting (I'm not telling you what happened or the plan) and you're on the edge of your seat wondering if they are going to pull this off.
I love the witty banter between Maya and Camden. Seriously, one of the best aspects of a book can be the sarcastic and humorous banter between people and this is some of the best. The humor is great, I especially love how Maya can't tell her parents what happened because "some of us are gonna be living out the rest of our lives in a rice paddy wearing a big hat." She's terrified that her parents will send her to live in Thailand if they find out how much money she needs to come up with to fix her situation especially because her parent's restaurant doesn't pull in a lot of money. I've never been totally paranoid like Maya about my grades (she freaks out if she gets less than an A, A-s and Bs are unacceptable!) but I totally understand why she's worried; her chances of getting into Stanford could be ruined because of what's she's done. Maya really grows and loosens up a bit throughout the rest of the book. The older sister-younger brother relationship between Maya and Nat is cute. They make fun of each other, they cover for each other, they are completely loyal to each other and they love each other! It's a nice change from younger sibling s terrorizing older siblings or older siblings completely ignoring younger siblings.
Now about this cover: I passed this book about 100 times in Borders and other bookstores and I had an interest in it, but I always thought the main character was white (I've read other reviews where people thought the same thing or thought she was Latina). Once I started Reading in Color, I learned that the main character is Thai. I immediately decided that I needed to get this book since there are so few books with Asian protagonists out there in YA. I'm also not a fan of the cover because I think it's a bit plain and random, I don't think the girl's facial expression relates much to the story. However, she does look very happy (or it could be seen as stressed out scream) But don't let the cover keep you from picking up this book!
I definitely recommend this book to all readers. It's not the typical light and fluffy read, it has a plot with substance that details an aspect of high school life that is not usually portrayed in YA literature (PLOT SPOILER *highlight to read: cheating is a big part of the book) The budding romance will be much loved by romance fans, the humor will be appreciated by those who love to read books that make them laugh and every high school teen will read this book and find themselves nodding their head in agreement at what is being said, at having themselves been in a similar situation. High school and up.
Disclosure: Received from Jana at HarperTeen. Thanks a ton Jana!