Carlie, her mom, and her brother haven't had the best year. Carlie's dad just passed away from cancer, and not too long after, the family has to sell their home and move from Channing, a pretty well-to-do town, to Las Pulgas, which is not so well-off. Carlie goes back and forth between hating her dad and missing him like crazy. She can't wait for life to get back to "normal" and for the family to move back to Channing.
Nothing works out the way she wants though. In school, she's called 'Princess' and refuses to make friends. Her brother shuts down and then vandalizes the school. Even though she doesn't want to, Carlie starts getting pulled into the lives of her classmates--especially since they are putting on the play Othello together for a fundraiser for school and Carlie is playing the lead.
She learns that at some point, things can never go back the way they were. And maybe you wouldn't want them to.
Carlie is a believable character going through an awful experience. There are a couple of times where you just want to shake her, but they fit into what's happening in the story. Stereotypes are both broken down and used in this story. Heartwrenching at times.