A seventh-grade girl writes an advice column for the school newspaper in this YA novel.
Corey Lawrence, 12, always has her nose stuck in a book. When her mother urges her to choose an activity and make friends, Corey takes up her English teacher’s suggestion that she join the student newspaper, which needs another advice columnist. She’d be working with cool, stylish Andi Greene, and despite her nervousness, Corey agrees. Before long, their column is a big hit, and the two girls are fast friends—but who left that nasty note in the advice letterbox? And what’s up with the destroyed French-English dictionary in the school library? As these mysteries unfold, along with the mystery that is adolescence, Corey learns more about herself, her past and paying attention to those around her. Kimball (Corey Saves the Day!, 2013, etc.) presents a believable middle-grade world and a hero who isn’t too perfect (she’s afraid to get her ears pierced) but has some real strengths. The focus on female friendship, free of mean-girl nastiness, is also refreshing. Her male friends on the school paper are also likable, with their good-natured teasing. Their dialogue is amusing but not implausibly sophisticated, as when Bruce says of a former algebra teacher, “They say she killed herself right over there because her students couldn’t—or wouldn’t—solve for x.” The book offers few surprises, however. The mystery angle is easily guessed, and Corey’s progress from invisible bookworm to popular and well-dressed preteen is too smooth. Skimpy to begin with, the narrative sometimes spends time on unnecessary details: “I go into my room and turn on my lights. There are two overhead bulbs that turn on with the same wall switch, and I also have a really nice floor lamp.”
Briskly paced, humorous and warm; an enjoyable but somewhat predictable read.