Mistaken identity, misbehavior, and musical theater.
Now that she’s starting Catholic school, how will 14-year-old Marty spend time with BFF Jimmy, who’s staying in public school and has a new boyfriend distracting him? Marty likes Jimmy’s boyfriend’s friends from the Gay-Straight Alliance but misses Jimmy’s undiluted attention. At least Marty’s school is doing Into the Woods—musicals are Marty’s lifeblood. Playing Little Red Riding Hood, she falls for the wily older boy playing the Wolf; Into the Woods fans will gobble up the detailed connections between show and life. As the kids pal around and drink beer, Marty’s oblivious social assumptions exist only to set up a plot tangle of identities, jealousies, and missteps. Weak characterization strains for voice, with Marty’s campy first-person narration (“HELL no. I’m not going to be the only girl-skank in these pictures!”) sounding the same as her gay friends’ (“Sweetheart, you have no idea what a trove of secrets I keep”; “You are soooo changing out of that…arrangement of fabric”). Ongoing snark about unshaven female legs, an it’s-so-weird attitude about a Chinese name before Marty learns its pronunciation, and variations on a slur (“mah bitches,” “bee-yatch,” and the classic “bitch”) aim for humor and flavor but come off, well, bitchy.
In a subgenre about queer themes and musicals that’s big enough to offer choice, other options are funnier and more genuine than this. (Fiction. 13-15)