The New Girl
Shortlist, The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize
Perkins brings her sharp wit and compassionate gaze to small-town life. It is the beginning of the summer holidays in a town in the middle of nowhere. Julia and her best friends Chicky and Rachel are school leavers emerging from their girlhood and waiting for the future. They — and their parents — are excited when Miranda, a charismatic and exotically beautiful woman from the city, arrives to teach a summer class. Miranda encourages curiosity and independence among her charges, but she also casts a shadow: the lifelong bonds between the girls begin to dissipate; confidences are broken; Julia yearns for the city, for an escape from boys who drink beer and race stolen cars across the gravel down by the bridge. But Miranda has her own doubts and betrayals. She too is asking: when will I be found out? The New Girl is a novel about girls and the women who shape them; about influence, identity, individual freedom and group responsibility.