Roberta Romano attends her first day at the affluent Meadowbrook Academy after being removed from her old school for bad behavior.
Roberta is a smart girl who just happens to make increasingly poor decisions, and these bad choices have earned her a one-way ticket to the strictest and richest school in town. Despite coming from the wrong side of the tracks, Roberta makes a connection with two social outcasts, Annie and Mervin. The short book covers just Roberta's first day at school, but it's a very eventful day. Hearts are broken, friendships are forged, and secrets are revealed. That all sounds like a lot of sentimental claptrap, but Maccie weaves it all together with an emotional maturity often missing from coming-of-age drama. Character comes first, and although there is the seemingly requisite wacky stunt in the third act, it merely serves as a backdrop as opposed to standing awkwardly as some clumsy metaphor. A few stock background characters muddy up the novel's midsection, and Roberta's mother is a frustrating caricature, but those are minor quibbles when all is said and done.
A solid and promising debut. (Fiction. 12-16)