Revenge may be sweet, but the joys of friendship and following your own star prove even sweeter in this engaging, low-key novel about a creative, rebellious youngster.
Fourteen-year-old Celia Door has taken on the private moniker “Celia the Dark” after being roundly rejected by her classmates at the end of eighth grade. But as luck would have it, new student Drake joins her class, and his friendship gives her a fresh prism through which to see herself. Drake is also the keeper of his own secret, and how these friends support each other as they navigate the social and psychological minefield of ninth grade is the heart of the story. What debut novelist Finneyfrock captures perfectly is the powerlessness of being a teen. The things that distress Celia—her best friend being pulled out of school, a mean-girl campaign to humiliate her, her parents’ separation and her father’s move to far-away Atlanta—affect her very core but are largely out of her control. Illuminated with flashes of humor, Celia’s narration is expressive, and her poems, which are sprinkled throughout the novel, elucidate her emotional state with grace and specificity.
Although the story drags in places and the resolution feels forced, girls should sympathize with Celia and Drake and root for their success. (Fiction. 12-16)