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BAD GIRLS IN LOVE by Cynthia Voigt Kirkus Star


by Cynthia Voigt

Age Range: 11 - 14

Pub Date: July 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-82471-8
Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

A gloriously literate dissection of the hormonal under- and over-currents of junior high school, as performed by Mikey Elsinger and Margalo Epps, back for their fourth appearance. In the eighth grade, apparently, thoughts of just about everyone lightly (and not so lightly) turn to love, and the two Bad Girls are no exception. While Margalo quietly and unrequitedly suffers over Mr. Schramm’s mischievous smile, however, Mikey somewhat astonishingly falls—flat—for Shawn Macavity, whose newly won part in The Lady’s Not for Burning has made him the most-sought-after male in school. Mikey’s pursuit of her chosen prey is typically unsubtle, hopeless, and hilarious (she brings homemade cookies to school for him and chalks their initials on all the chalkboards). It also becomes the narrative motor for Voigt’s (It’s Not Easy Being Bad, 2000, etc.) explorations of romantic love among both students and adults. While Mikey’s infatuation makes her an object of much derision in the girls’ bathrooms, her divorced parents enact their own love dramas. Her self-centered mother does not even invite Mikey to her second wedding; her much kinder father works hard to balance fatherhood against a return to the world of dating. As always, the clinical observations of junior-high culture are spot on: “The way rumors grew and spread in junior high, it was like they practiced several different forms of propagation all at the same time . . . ” Even as the macrocosm is so dispassionately encapsulated, the microcosm of one individual’s emotional state is beautifully evoked: “Mikey went out to the kitchen and poured a bowl of Cap’n Crunches. . . . The milk-and-sugar taste, combined with the friendly crunching sound inside her head as she chewed, made her feel like a little kid.” This may well be the Bad Girls’ most delicious outing yet; readers will, along with Mikey, look forward to the next time she falls “in lurve. . . . It’s pretty much fun.” (Fiction. 11-14)