Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson
High school junior Kate Malone has only applied to only one college: MIT. But the stress of possible rejection isn't the only thing on her mind. Kate is obsessed with academic excellence, portraying the perfect daughter for her father's church congregation, and following in her mother's footsteps. After a neighbor's house burns down, Kate's father brings Teri and her baby brother to live with them. Kate isn't happy about it, as Teri is a social outcast who used to beat Kate up in elementary school. But as events unfold, Kate learns empathy and compassion. Maybe getting into the college of her choice isn't as important as she thought.
Anderson creates a vivid picture of a struggling teenage girl. But if you're going to read an Anderson book about a girl who attends the fictional Merryweather High, read Speak. Catalyst is good. Speak is great.