One bad day in seventh grade can feel like a lifetime. However, even end-of-the-world–level heartache can have surprising and comic consequences.
Emmie’s story is part of the growing subgenre that hybridizes the middle-grade and graphic novel. With doodle-illustrated prose chapters depicting Emmie’s world and entire comics-style sections depicting the popular Kate, Libenson takes readers inside the halls of middle school with the same nod to weirdness and eye-rolling angst as such format standards as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries. Emmie is a painfully shy girl who is forced to see and be seen one fateful day when a playful game with best friend Brianna turns into a nightmare. Libenson uses two different illustration styles to distinguish between Emmie, the soft-spoken wallflower, and Kate, the outgoing girl of fabulousness. An artist using her doodles to illustrate the seventh-grade world, Emmie sees herself as someone with no voice, while the enigmatic, charismatic Kate is full of confidence and determined to push Emmie out of her comfort zone. Though readers may be puzzled by the device initially, Libenson’s rationale for the dual portrayals becomes clear in the end. However, the repetition of Emmie’s description as quiet, shy, and disenfranchised becomes as grating as a nasal whine. Both Emmie and Kate appear to be white, but school scenes reveal multiethnic classmates.
Classic middle school themes come alive, but they fail to really go anywhere. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)