The hot topic of middle school bullying is tackled by a San Antonio sixth-grader trying to get his class dance funded.
Zack Delacruz has never stood out from the crowd; really, he’s never tried to. He's been comfortable coasting along as a middle school nobody. Subtly inspired by an anti-bullying assembly, Zack makes the mistake of standing up to the school bully, José, by defending Janie, a movie-obsessed fat girl who spits when she talks. The fallout from this interaction results in Zack’s landing on the fundraising committee for the sixth-grade dance—with José. After this, the novel focuses a lot more on the fundraising endeavors than the anti-bullying rhetoric, which is unfortunate, as the quest for funding just fails to capture the imagination. The book seems divided between wanting to address the serious problem of middle school bullying and to rise above the after-school-special qualities inherent in a problem novel. The result is a story that lacks any genuine pathos. There's a lot of style here: seemingly every character is assigned a cute nickname, and Zack's narration is certainly proud of itself. But the substance is an afterthought. Even at a brisk 170 pages, there isn't enough story to actively engage readers, and the lack of any subtext makes this an unsatisfying read.
Forgettable. (Fiction. 10-14)