Courtney Brown is on top of the world -- she's best friends with the sixth grade's most popular girl, she's been chosen as a cheerleader, and her chilly stepmother is beginning to seem sympathetic. But then, in the course of four days, everything turns around. Her older brother is mistakenly arrested for drug dealing, her stepmother runs off with another man, her father's auto shop is closed down by the bank, and Courtney herself is wrongly accused of stealing some class money. Instantly, the cool kids desert her, and soon her only friend is plucky Judy Baird, a physically handicapped girl from the housing projects who teaches Courtney to stand up for herself. Courtney swiftly convinces the principal she didn't steal the money, pulls her father out of his depression (he then easily gets an extension on his loan), and ends up more popular than ever. She brings Judy with her into the ""in"" crowd, naturally. Wallace's (Danger in Quicksand Swamp, 1989) idea of life in junior high is a bit dated but may be close enough to reality in the small Texas town in which the story is set. It is also hard to believe that Courtney would be so totally ostracized at the drop of a hat, but, since that's how pre-adolescents imagine the world operates, maybe the target audience will respond to it. Maybe. A clumsy little novel.