I can't go on with my story until I've explained a little more about Carla Santini. But in order to explain about Carla, I first have to explain about the social structure of Deadwood High. Life is like that, I find. Complicated.
I think of Deadwood High as an eco-system. It has its groups, and each of them feeds off the others. There are, of course, small grouplettes on the fringe--dopeheads, a couple of retro-hippies, a few bikers types (but largely without bikes), metal heads, the total untouchables--but basically there are three main groups.
The first group is what I call the BTWs: Born to Wins. These are the kids who think of school as a social event. They're popular, attractive, very busy and usually get a monthly allowance that would support of five for a year in Cuba. Their grades may not be the greatest, but they're good enough. The boys are usually all-round athletes and the girls are usually on every committee. Parents and teachers wish their kids would buckle down a little more and treat maths and English as though they were as important as the Homecoming Dance, but otherwise they don't mind them. They know they are not going to be astrophysicists or anything like that, but they also know that they're unlikely to wind up collecting bottles to get the deposit back so they can buy cheap wine.
The second group I call BTRs: Born to Run Everythings. They're the brains and very goal-oriented. They either dress like professionals they plan to be, or they're super cool with artistic and intellectual pretensions. They're always seen reading the "right" book or listening to the "right" music. Parents and teachers love these kids.
The BTWs and the BTRs don't interact at all with any of the fringe groups unless it's to torment them, but they're usually civil with each other.
The third group are the Independents. Unlike the kids on the fringe, who are either closet wannabes, or just resigned to the fact that they will never be accepted by any of the "in" groups in this lifetime, the Independents don't care. Because they don't care, they don't get hassled or bullied and are more or less accepted by everyone, if only superficially. Achieving independent status isn't easy, so there aren't many of them. Maybe eight or ten in the whole of Deadwood High.
I'm an independent. It's easier for me because I didn't grow up with these kids. Ella should have been a BTR--she's at the top of our class and she lives in the right neighborhood--and she would have been if she were a little more like her parents, but Ella was not only very shy and repressed before we met, she was also uncompetitive and unpretentious and found the BTRs boring. Nobody really paid her that much attention before I moved to Deadwood. She wasn't an independent, she was just Ella. Now she's an independent by default because I'm her best friend.
And then, standing alone like a princess on a tower of diamonds, there's Carla Santini.
Carla Santini isn't an Independent, she's a BTW and a BTR. She could be anything else she wanted to be, but she wouldn't want to be anything else, unless it were God.
Carla Santini is beautiful, rich, intelligent and revoltingly sophisticated for someone who was born and raised in the depths of New Jersey. She does what she wants; she dresses like a model. If Carla Santini wears something new on Monday, half the girls in school will be wearing something like it by Friday. And then Carla will never wear hers again. Carla Santini is also one of those people who sees this enormous planet as a single-person dwelling. It baffles me how someone as materialistic, self-centred and shallow as Carla Santini can be the most popular teenager in Dellwood, but young as I am, I have already learned that there's lot in this life that doesn't make sense.
About the book:
Mary Elizabeth Cep (or Lola, as she prefers to be called) longs to be in the spotlight. But when she moves to New Jersey with her family and becomes a student at Dellwood "Deadwood" High, Lola finds the role of resident drama queen already filled, by the Born-to-Win, Born-to-Run-Everything Carla Santini. Carla has always gotten everything she wants -- until Lola comes along and snags the lead in the school play. Can Lola survive Carla's attempts at retaliation? Once the curtain goes up on the school play, which drama queen will take center stage?
Snippet from The Buried Giant
- Kazuo Ishiguro
Snippet from A Manual for Cleaning Women
- Lucia Berlin