by Lauren Myracle
First sentence: “(Shot from Katie-Rose’s sunshine yellow video camera)”
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It’s the first day of fifth grade, and Katie-Rose is stoked. And nervous. She just really, really wants a friend. Sure, she’s got Max, but he’s a boy, and while he’s a good friend, he’s not BFF material.
Little did she know that by the end of the week, she would have not one BFF, but four. We get to know them as they figure out their budding friendship: there’s Katie-Rose, of course; but also Yasaman, Turkish Muslim, class observer, and computer wizard; Violet, the new girl with a bit of a tough secret; and Milla, former popular girl who’s trying to figure out what real friendship is. Told through alternating viewpoints, we get to see into the heads and hearts of these four girls as they bond and stand up to the class bully.
I don’t usually go in for books that are so embedded in pop culture, but to my surprise, in spite of the cover, this one wasn’t. Sure, it’s got texting and IMing and cell phones and video cameras, but Myracle does a good job balancing the pop culture with a good old-fashioned story of bullying, lying, and the meaning of friendship. I liked the girls: they were well-developed, and rang true to the whole fifth-grade mentality. The pre-teen angst, the concern about fitting in and yet wanting to be true to one’s own self. Myracle tackled all that with humor and love for the age, for the problems and for the characters. And most importantly, she doesn’t talk down to her readers: the plot is simple without being simplistic. There’s a bit of a crisis with a missing bobble-headed turtle (okay, I kind of want a bobble-headed turtle now), but for the most part it’s just about the girls.
Which is perfectly fine by me.