Kyle can have a hard time telling the truth, both to others and to herself.
Just starting sixth grade, she quickly falls for really cute Reed, who’s English. Unfortunately, just as quickly, one of her BFFs, Sheroo, also develops a crush on him. As a character, Kyle has a lot to recommend her. When an oversized bully starts tormenting Marcy, a girl with hearing aids, Kyle responds, although too aggressively. That gets her into much hot water, mostly with her mother, who is too quick to draw conclusions and too slow to recognize her daughter’s strong underlying values. Kyle’s school-assigned punishment is that she’s forced to join NAVS, a competitive problem-solving team. It turns out to be a perfect fit but results in even more conflict with both Sheroo and her mom. Although neither Kyle nor any of her classmates are described completely enough to have certain racial identities, the cover image indicates that at least Kyle is white. Kyle’s narration cleverly but unconsciously interweaves the wise messages she learns from tai chi in gym class with her growing self-awareness. Her conflicts with her friends and her parents are well-realized and believable, and her voice has a subtle edge of humor and self-deprecation that enlivens the presentation.
Amusing, engaging, and honest, Kyle and her struggles and successes will be familiar to many middle school girls. (Fiction. 9-12)