IT’S NOT EASY BEING BAD by Cynthia Voigt


Age Range: 10 - 14
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Mikey and Margalo, Voigt’s redoubtable Bad Girls (1996—and Bad, Badder, Baddest, 1997), return for a third wickedly satisfying outing. The girls have just entered junior high school, only to find that all the social rules have changed and their reputations as the baddest of the bad count for nothing. After a brief, disastrous campaign for popularity, Mikey settles back into her old surly, splendidly singular self. Margalo finds it harder to resist the allure of popularity or at least the illusion thereof: “If it was a sickness, wanting to be liked, wanting to fit in and mix in, then Margalo had it. But not, she realized, because she wanted to be popular. What she actually wanted was people thinking she was popular . . . .” The plot meanders somewhat from scheme to scheme—one plan involves getting Mikey on the tennis team by petitioning to allow seventh-graders on the basketball team—but what drives the story is the growing tension between the two best friends as Margalo quietly courts popularity while trying to remain loyal to the one person who knows her best. Voigt is anthropological in her observation of junior-high-school social structure (the girls navigate among the Heathers, the arty-smarties, the jockettes, and the Barbies), and she captures perfectly the gnawing uncertainty of a not-so-popular student’s place in it. It will come as no great surprise to Mikey and Margalo’s fans that they triumph in the end—with badness intact—but that is almost incidental to the oh-so-naughty fun of watching how they get to it. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-689-82473-4
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2000


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