It's not easy being cool. Especially in the sixth grade.
Lane Cisco is pretty sure grade six is going to be a smooth ride. She has the right clothes, the right friends and the right secret boyfriend. She's even chosen to be a class officer, which means pizza meetings and planning all the dances. Life is pretty great until her parents announce an extended visit from her cousin, Mint, who lives in Alaska. Mint turns out to be the kind of girl who revels in the unconventional, and Lane and her friends quickly realize that Mint is less an embarrassment and more of a threat. Tracy delivers a compelling read about problems many early-adolescent readers will find familiar. Lane and her friends are believable and recognizable, if a little interchangeable, and their dialogue among themselves rings true. The adults in the novel are less lucky; teachers are either absent or stiff, and Lane's parents display a curious lack of empathy when they require Lane to share her life with a girl who's essentially a stranger. Nevertheless, their emotions will ring true with readers, no matter how far in the past middle school lies.
High drama so compelling middle school readers won't realize they're being exposed to a lesson in ethics. (Fiction. 10-13)