TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
Let's get a few things out of the way first: (1) This is strictly a female-oriented novel, for girls in about 7th grade and up; and (2) you'll find nothing in this plot or these characters that you haven't encountered somewhere before. With that said, this is a fast, easily readable, highly enjoyable coming-of-age novel with some genuinely sweet and touching moments.
Bad girl Murphy gets sentenced to perform community service at the Darlington's Georgia peach orchard, where she meets shy, stuck-in-a-rut Birdie, the owner's daughter, and beautiful, princess-y Leeda, Birdie's richer, more popular cousin. Murphy, Birdie, and Leeda form a tentative friendship over spring break, but it's really over the course of a long, busy summer at the orchard — one which includes plenty of late-night sneak outs to a nearby lake and even a roadside bar — that the girls become true friends.
Of course, none of the girls are truly as they first appear. Murphy, besides being a wrong-side-of-the-tracks troublemaker, is also brilliant, tough, and loads of fun. Birdie, underneath all her awkwardness, is a warm, caring person who almost single-handedly keeps the orchard running after her mom splits and her dad becomes overwhelmed by his depression. And Leeda, despite appearing absolutely perfect on the outside, is constantly comparing herself to her older sister … and constantly falling short.
What separates this book from others like it are its beautiful, almost lyrical descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells of the peach orchard and the very real, very natural way the girls act. For example, when Birdie freezes up as a boy she likes tries to kiss her, you can understand just how nervous she is. Since the characters are so believable and, frankly, so likable, there's a huge, heartfelt payoff at the end of the story, as each girl accomplishes something important in her life.