Who doesn’t love Joan Bauer? She doesn’t fake high school, but real doesn’t turn to trashy. I really admire her for this. In Peeled, I struggled to find one moment that made me uncomfortable. That made me extremely happy that I couldn’t find one. I had loved Joan Bauer’s Rules of the Road and Best Foot Forward so much that I couldn’t bear for Peeled to let me down.

It didn’t. I got this yesterday, when I wasn’t feeling too well, and it certainly brightened my day! I had to control myself, only reading for half an hour at a time. I think that I still like Rules of the Road more. I felt like I was breathing in some very delicious smells that reminded me of something long ago that I didn’t want to forget, so I saved them as long as possible. Plus, the cover is already so appetizing and makes me want to crunch into the apples… and the words, too. It’s funny how many books I’m currently reading with green apples, scary really. I think it is up to four…

Hildy Biddle reports for her school newspaper, but can’t stand gossip or filler news. Her Dad, Mitch Biddle, taught Hildy to stand for truth, and when she gets assigned a mysterious article, she’s determined to get to the bottom of it. Everything in Banesville, New York reminds Hildy of her Dad who passed away three years ago. The markets, the bountiful apples, even the old “haunted” house. The old Ludlow house, thought haunted by Mr. Ludlow whose young wife died in the garage, has just popped up in the news again. The police catch a man trying to breaking into it from the “security company” and the local newspaper, The Bee, tells only one side of the story. The Core, Hildy’s newspaper, wars with The Bee to get to the real truth first. But… what if The Bee has no intention of telling readers the news? What if…

I really connected with Hildy, and the setting. Peeled is very different than any other book I’ve read by Bauer (and I haven’t read them all). I enjoyed Bauer’s sweet mystery taking place in “apple country”. Oh, and boy did it make me want apples. Hildy mentions apples all the time, from rotten apples to fresh apple pie. Of course we don’t have any in the house.

I did find the second half of the middle a little slow moving. Every other part was so riveting, the middle was a bit of a surprise. I knew what was going to happen, and it wasn’t as fun to read. I did extremely enjoy the end, which I did not predict one bit. Well, one bit, but Joan Bauer always does the expected with romance. Then again, if she didn’t, it wouldn’t be Joan Bauer.

Comes out May 2008.