By: Sara Shepard
The second novel of the young adult series Pretty Little Liars proves that the
drama and mystery are no small matter. Flawless is full of teenage girl problems but
it also touches on the scandal surrounding their late friend, Alison’s, re-opened
murder case. Starting off with a premonition about a certain male character then
following with a flash back to middle school, this novel is full of turns and no
conclusion. Bulimia, a lesbian romance, and “The Jenna Thing” are all major issues
that threaten the girls’ reputations and friendship.
Alison, Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna are an inseparable group of teenage girls who have a few secrets that they
will never share. “The Jenna Thing” refers to a prank they played on Toby Cavanaugh,
their creepy neighbor. They threw a lit firework into his tree house one night when
they thought he was sitting in it alone, but when the paramedics came and lowered a
young girl from the destroyed tree house, they all agreed it was one more secret
they would take to the grave. Shortly after their pact was solidified, Alison went
missing and the girls became ex-best friends. The story picks up three years later
after Alison’s body is discovered in cement, the remaining girls are brought back
together at her funeral and the “A” contact begins. The girls know that this
mysterious person texting them can’t be Alison…or can it?
The secrets that Alison used to hold against them are on the verge of getting out. When it comes to female
teenage development, anything that makes them appear different can shake them at the
core, which causes these girls to do anything to keep them under wraps. Emily in
particular struggles with her sexuality and fears that her friends and family won’t
accept her if she is honest with them and herself. She at one time felt close to
Alison, but the “A” character knows of a kiss she shared with another girl and
threatens to tell. A past eating disorder is also a topic that “A” haunts Hanna
with, and the messages continue to leave the girls in the dark at figuring out who
they are. The argument the book presents is that betrayal and friendship are often
mixed when honesty is missing. The girls have been hiding and hurting others to
cover their own tracks, but when the lies start adding up things get messy.
Toby is the girl’s main suspect in this book as Alison’s murderer. They know that she had
dirt on him and they think he is seeking revenge on all of them as “A.” As Emily and
Toby begin to get closer, the others become suspicious of his motives. Toby has his
own concerns, and fears that the girls are going to frame him for his secret past.
The drama intensifies at the end when a biker comes to Emily’s porch asking for a
phone. He mentions that has been an emergency in the woods and things. The night
before, Toby had come to her door begging to speak with her but she told him “Go
Away! You heard me, I know. What. You. Did. To. Her” (Shepard 287). Little did Emily
know that this would be the last thing she says to him and that the girl’s fears
would be greater when Emily received “A’s” text message: “Poor confused Emily. I bet
you could use a big warm girl hug right now, huh? Don’t get too comfortable. It’s
not over until I say it is” (Shepard 330).
Shepard, Sara. Flawless. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007. Print. Pretty Little Liars.
Reviewer: Kelli Scandrol