Ella On the Outside by Cath Howe
Ella starts at a new school, wearing the wrong clothes and with a secret no one must find out. All she wants is to make friends. There's pretty, popular Lydia, and quiet, mysterious Molly. It seems as though Ella can't be friends with both - so who should she choose? Harder still is the secret that Ella is hiding. She wants to talk about it, but who can she trust? Soon she is being blackmailed and manipulated by someone she is desperate to like. How can she escape? Is it too late to do the right thing?
Cath Howe's first novel is a masterclass in writing realistic fiction for 10 year-olds. She expertly captures the voice of girls that age; the isolation of the new kid in the playground and the twists, turns and betrayals of first friendship. Ella is such a human, relatable character that it's impossible not to want her to be ok. And when at last she finds 'a new kind of stubborn' inside her and faces down her tormentor, you know that kindness and courage has won the day. Fans of Jacqueline Wilson will devour this excellent, gripping novel. I'm recommending it enthusiastically this summer.