To help her good-looking but painfully tongue-tied best friend, Aggie, land Drew, the boy of her dreams, Cici pretends to be Aggie online.
When it comes to savvy advice, Cici has a reputation of always being right, “like a Magic 8 Ball.” Nonetheless, Cici’s clever idea of impersonating Aggie on social media immediately backfires. Cici falls for the handsome hockey player herself, and Aggie is so different from Cici in person that Drew becomes confused. Told with a female protagonist, Springer’s shrewd update of the Cyrano de Bergerac story uses it as the perfect prism for middle school girls, demonstrating how hitting puberty at different times can affect social status, love relationships, and friendship. For a light, rather humorous novel, it’s a surprisingly potent theme, and it also brings up an interesting point: how these bodily changes are hard on the girls who develop early as well as on the ones who develop later. Although Cici is almost 13, two months older than Aggie, she still looks like a little girl, while Aggie is the reluctant owner of a pair of “ginormous” boobs. Cici and Drew are engaging characters whose behaviors feel organic, but Aggie’s character feels pieced together, a bunch of disparate traits molded to fit the plot. Springer makes little effort to populate her story with racially or ethnically diverse characters.
A surprisingly successful, suspenseful, and engrossing take on the Cyrano story with a contemporary twist. (Fiction. 11-14)