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Ella on the outside by Cath Howe

Ella is the new girl at school. She doesn't know anyone and she doesn't have any friends. And she has a terrible secret.

Ella can't believe her luck when Lydia, the most popular girl in school, decides to be her new best friend - but what does Lydia really want? And what does it all have to do with Molly, the quiet, shy girl who won't talk to anyone?

A gripping story of lies, friendship, and blackmail...

Ella on the outside is a beautiful MG title which really makes the reader think about the importance of friendship, picking good friends and being a good friend to those around you. Ella is a bit lost at the start of the book. Her mother has relocated the family, her father is in prison and she's started a new school without her best friend beside her and finding it tough to break into existing friendhsip groups.

What I particularly loved about this book was through Ella you get to explore what it means to be a good friend. Ella initially is drawn to Lydia, the popular girl. We've all met a Lydia. She's the Queen Bee and manages to stay in that position through fear, picking and choosing who gets to be in the 'in gang' and who isn't cool enough. Lydia is nasty and a real bully whilst pretending to be Ella's friend and while it's obvious what she's doing from the outside, it takes Ella a while to catch on which I related to on so many levels having had a incredibly toxic best friend at high school.

Over the course of the story you see Ella start to realise this but not until after she has hurt another girl, Molly and has to make it right. This story really shows the value of good friendships and the importance of treating people well. I thoroughly enjoyed it.