alexandria hyatt (*cough* paris hilton *cough*) is a spoiled little rich girl. think the flesh wastes of "my super sweet sixteen" (thank you charlie brooker for that vivid phrase). when she's caught shoplifting, a judge having a bad day decides that her lack of remorse demonstrates an attitude severely in need of adjustment. so he sentences her to a stint in a juvenile detention facility. at the end of the day the prosecution decides that they are willing to make a deal and offer alexandria a choice between serving a term in juvie or going to kenya with an organization called free the children where she will help build school houses. after a brief consideration she chooses the latter figuring it will be easy enough to avoid any real work and come home as if she's just had a vacation.
of course alexandria's pampered lifestyle sets her up for a bit of a reality check when she is faced with only having the bare essential on the compound once she gets to kenya. her fellow volunteers (alexandria is the only one participating against her will) are all so friendly and wholesome and the poverty of the people where they are working really start to get to her. of course she ends up experiencing things and meeting people that will ultimately change her for the better. a bit didactic , and the moral is obvious, but it's still a great read and i had trouble putting it down.