I just finished reading Dead Girl Walking, by Linda Joy Singleton (Flux, 312 pages), not quite in one siting, but it would have been if little chores like feeding the chickens, feeding the children, etc. hadn't interfered.
I'm guessing that most of us wondered, back in high school, what it would have been like to have been someone else. Amber Borden, kind of dorky, kind of unpopular, kind of sneered at by the glitterati of her school, doesn't have to wonder anymore what life is like for Leah, the beautiful alpha female of her class. Why? Because Amber is living Leah's nightmarish life, trapped in Leah's body, and she wants out!
Following an unfortunate meeting with a runaway postal vehicle, Amber almost dies. After visiting the portal of the afterlife, she's sent back to earth again to rejoin her body. But, being one of the most directionally challenged people around, she gets lost on the way back, ending up in Leah's body instead of her own. Leah has just tried to kill herself.
Now Amber's the one with the fit and sexy body (but why the strange hardness of her breasts?) , the rich and successful parents (what has gone wrong with Leah's mother? What games is her sadistic father playing with her?) , the love of an ultra cute boyfriend (but Leah's journal tells a different story), and so on and so on.
It is not a nice life. Not at all. Amber desperately wants to be herself again, and go back to her own crowded, un-cool, loving life, chunky thighs and all. Escaping Leah's life, however, proves trickier than she thought it would be, and it becomes a race against time for Amber to get back to her body before that body gets taken off life support.
It's a nice mix of fun (mainly because Amber is an amusing character) and seriousness (because of the rather obvious message. In case you missed it, here it is: sometimes even rich and beautiful people have crummy lives). And, perhaps most importantly, it is a Good Read. The sort where you are surprised that time has passed while you were reading.
This is the first book of a series--the second book, Dead Girl Dancing, is due out in the spring of 2009.
Jen just reviewed it over at Jen Robinson's Book Page, where she says it's suitable for 10 and up. I would push it up a bit, to 12--it's not like anything happens that is shocking, but there are lots of innuendos that I think would make it a better read for older kids/teenagers.
Here are other reviews, at Michelle's Minions and Si, se puede! Yes we can.