When Anya, the stylish and popular yearbook editor, insists that all of the photos feature Rocky Mount Middle School’s most popular students, best friends Perry and Venice are determined to make sure the yearbook is for everyone, not just the beautiful people.
Perry feels caught between going along to get along and fighting for what is right. Her clueless parents and her checked-out teachers are little help. And unfortunately, neither Venice’s angry, confrontational solution nor Perry’s sister’s peace-and-harmony plans are a good fit. Perry must learn to navigate the politics of middle school largely on her own. Evolving friendships, first crushes, and bullying are just a few of the difficulties she must face. Ethnicity is only hinted at in characters’ names, but the principals appear to be white. Narrator Perry’s angst is age-appropriate and understandable, but her unending navel-gazing and melodrama quickly become too much for the thin plot to bear. Dialogue is often repetitive or seems to try too hard. Exclamation points abound as characters proclaim one another to be “amaze-balls” and “nutzoid.” The final lesson seems to be be true to yourself, but in the end, Perry gives no indication that she is any closer to knowing who that is. And while readers may forgive Perry for her mistakes, watching her indecision is exhausting.
(Un)successful. (Fiction. 9-13)