How to balance the tantalizing promise of popularity against supporting your needy very best friend? That’s the choice Izzy faces at her new, mostly white summer camp.
Best friend Mackenzie keeps offering clues that Izzy’s headed down the wrong path, but the 12-year-old is tone-deaf to the hints that the new “friends” she’s bonding with are shallow and unkind. The inseparable twosome’s BFF relationship devolves into an oddball situation with Mackenzie secretly—then reluctantly—providing Izzy with ideas for pranks to play against a cabin of rival male campers, which Izzy attributes to her fictitious older brother, invented to boost her credibility. Her notable lack of understanding of Mackenzie’s position, related in her dismissive first-person voice, both makes her an unpleasant character and may leave readers wondering why her friend ever liked her. It’s a situation poised, inevitably, to collapse into a messy disaster. Although Izzy eventually, uncharacteristically, recognizes her mistakes, it’s hard to ignore her previous behavior, leaving the expected satisfying conclusion feeling a bit flat and insincere, with only Mackenzie’s emerging spirit seeming fully believable. Brown-skinned Izzy is biracial, with a Latino dad and a white mom, and her cabin mates include an Indian-American girl, an Asian girl, and another dark-skinned girl, but the novel’s default is white.
Frequent summer campers are the ones most likely to run this effort up the flagpole. (Fiction. 10-13)