Who better to study adolescent behavior than Janice Wills, a budding anthropologist and teenager herself?
In this laugh-out-loud debut, the high-school junior’s first-hand observations, under the guise of field notes to the editor of Current Anthropology, center on her North Carolina town’s most anticipated annual event: Melva’s Miss Livermush Pageant. Janice is certain that entering and observing this competition, which “celebrates everyone’s favorite pork liver–based processed meat by marching twenty young women in ridiculous dresses across a stage,” is her ticket to a published article. (Yes, livermush is a real food!) As Janice prepares for this awesome event (“and by awesome, I mean cheesy and fantastic”), her best friends help her realize that she’s been using her role as anthropologist to judge from the sidelines rather than participate in the world around her. And when she tries to find a pageant escort, she discovers that for all of her time observing, she has no insight into the patterns of adolescent male behavior. All along the way, she imparts amusing quips on high school’s taxonomy of students and the small-town South, occasionally illustrating her observations with frequently hysterical diagrams, pie charts and graphs. Although one of her prospects secretly confesses to being bisexual (seemingly taboo in this town of traditions), its impact is glossed over. Nevertheless, the characters add to the light yet solid story’s charm.Serve to readers who like their chick lit with a side of humor. (Fiction. 14 & up)