12 must-read August YA book releases to close out your summer

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They Wish They Were Us – Jessica Goodman

Jessica Goodman’s debut novel They Wish They Were Us is described by its publisher as “Gossip Girl meets One of Us Is Lying with a dash of The Secret History,” which is enough reason in and of itself to give it a look if you ask me. This buzzy prep school murder mystery follows the story of Jill Newman during her senior year of high school at the prestigious Gold Coast Prep on Long Island.

Three years earlier, Jill’s best friend Shaila Arnold was killed by her boyfriend Graham. He confessed and everyone tried their best to move on. Now, Jill is determined to make the most out of senior year, especially now that she’s made it into Gold Coast’s elite secret society. But when she starts receiving texts that seem to imply Graham might not be as guilty as everyone thought, her bright future seems more in danger than it ever has before.

The official synopsis offers more detail on the book’s plot.

In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect. But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems.

Freshman year Jill’s best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. After that dark night on the beach, Graham confessed, the case was closed, and Jill tried to move on.

Now, it’s Jill’s senior year and she’s determined to make it her best yet. After all, she’s a senior and a Player–a member of Gold Coast Prep’s exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. This is going to be Jill’s year. She’s sure of it.

But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham’s innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn’t kill Shaila, who did? Jill vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy

They Wish They Were Us is available on August 4.

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