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THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z.  by Kate Messner

THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z.

By Kate Messner

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8027-9842-8
Publisher: Walker

A beloved grandmother is failing. A school project looms—and not completing it has dire consequences (in this case, not being able to participate in an important track meet). Spoiled rich girls torment their classmates, including the narrator, while a nerdy friend who’s a boy starts to look a little bit like he has boyfriend potential. None of the elements of this middle-school story is really new, but first-time author (and longtime middle-school teacher) Messner succeeds in creating an engaging saga all the same. If there’s a flaw, it’s that the narrative is so realistic that it’s chock-full of incident and details—and occasionally predictable. But jazzing up the plot with a riddle-loving younger brother, making Gianna’s family proprietors of a funeral home and sprinkling in a hearty helping of references to art and poetry keep things interesting. An ending that’s hopeful without being saccharine is another big plus. (Fiction. 9-12)