When her parents enroll her in a charm school, a nonconforming middle schooler finds her life transformed.
By the time Izzy starts sixth grade, her “slide into loserdom” is firmly established. Izzy’s perfect older sister’s a musical prodigy, and her mother’s so busy running for mayor of Dandelion Hollow she has no time for her outspoken younger daughter, whose “mouth often has a mind of its own.” Sporting weird combat boots and vintage clothing, friendless Izzy pretends she doesn’t care classmates call her Toad Girl, but her pariah status keeps her from a yearned-for place on the school rowing team. Desperate, Izzy’s parents enroll her in a home-study charm school. For each task Izzy completes, she earns a charm for her bracelet. Izzy’s first assignment rekindles an old friendship, but the second ends badly when she accidentally damages her mother’s campaign materials. After well-intentioned efforts to complete the third task result in accusations of vandalism, Izzy knows the final assignment will be her only chance to make amends. Izzy’s frank, vulnerable, sassy first-person narration reveals her surprising journey from a solitary girl talking to the stars to a girl with friends to light her way. Izzy is depicted on the cover as a blonde, white girl, and her small Northern California town is not a notably diverse one.
This story of an atypical girl, her family, and friends, laced with middle school drama, is indeed a charming one. (Fiction. 8-12)