three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
18-Sept-Oct-2005
user_rating: 
0

A-TothePowerofThreeJosie, Perri, and Kat—an athlete, an actress, a homecoming queen, respectively—have been best friends since third grade, pledging their loyalty to each other in the face of high school cliques. But on their last day of high school, a mysterious shooting in the girls’ bathroom kills one, puts another in a coma, and wounds the last. What happened in this affluent high school in Baltimore’s suburbs? The surviving teen knows something she’s not telling. The truth slowly unfolds as the girls’ parents, a former student, a guidance counselor, and the police investigate. But more secrets can kill.
Morrow. 448 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0060506725

Baltimore Sun 4 of 5 Stars
"Lippman’s deft hand at tracking the twists and turns of a criminal investigation, of throwing wrenches into the works, of breaking a childhood pledge, make To the Power of Three an addicting and chilling page-turner and a powerful indictment of class status and popularity, of the mirror microcosm that high school is of the larger world."
Judith Redding

Oregonian 4 of 5 Stars
"[A] thoughtful, seamlessly crafted whodunit. … Sans sentiment but with affection toward her characters and a marvelous use of modern language, Lippman explores how parents change after the loss of a child, the pressure high school girls face from peers, families, and the educational system, and the challenges of housing development, among other things."
Holly Johnson

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"… Lippman produces a novel that is a powerful testament to the strength and destructiveness of friendship, unchecked emotions, and secrets. … Sure, To the Power of Three is filled with issues—enough to occupy several book discussion groups—but it’s also well balanced by a story that draws in the reader." Oline H. Cogdill

NY Times Book Review 2.5 of 5 Stars
"[W]hat Lippman is really going for here is an analysis of teenage friendship and how cultural pressures can twist it into something so ugly it becomes lethal. … After a while, though, Glendale’s airless atmosphere begins to feel as stifling to the reader as it does to the sons and daughters of the town." Marilyn Stasio

Critical Summary

The award-winning author of the Tess Monaghan mysteries has written an independent crime thriller and coming-of-age mystery. The 1999 Columbine High School massacre received great media attention; here, Lippman shows that girls possess the same capacity for violence. Critics agree that Lippman writes with great empathy and insight into the ups-and-downs of teenage friendship, high school peer pressures, and the ways in which violence affects the community. But the novel is too long, contains inaccurate forensic details, and creates characters who are detailed to the point of becoming dull. Despite these flaws, To the Power of Three is a gripping, readable exposé of teenage girls’ psychology.