Kat, a down-to-earth seventh-grader, self-conscious of her braces-and-eyeglasses appearance, gets roped into playing Cyrano de Bergerac for her gorgeous, popular cousin, Olivia, and her best friend and soul mate, Tyler.
Just one of Kat’s problems is her growing realization that she now likes Tyler in a new way and that it hurts to deliberately push him toward a relationship with Olivia—even though she wants her cousin to be happy. Further complicating matters is the problem that somewhat shallow Olivia has nothing at all in common with Tyler; she finds him “seriously cute” and wants him to ask her to the upcoming Fall Ball, but she neither understands him nor even tries to learn to. All of this has been done before, but Kat’s narrative voice is fresh and mostly convincing (although it’s hard to fully believe that she is suddenly shy and rather sneaky around a boy she knows and likes so very well). The racial identity of the main players isn’t mentioned beyond Olivia’s blue-eyed blondeness, but cover art depicts them as white. A few moments of excruciating embarrassment ring very true: Kat’s mom tries to teach her and Tyler how to dance, and later, Tyler catches Kat under the bleachers feeding lines to Olivia. Ouch.
An undemanding, entertaining, and engaging romp with a predictable happy ending. (Fiction. 10-13)