Five seventh-grade winners of a writing competition are required to form a creative writing workshop where their diversity--which at first makes them unwilling, even hostile, collaborators--eventually draws them together as friends. For protagonist Libby, who is the granddaughter of a famous local novelist--and who has been taught at home until this year when her remarkable family of five adults has decided that it's time for her to be "socialized"--each of the others is a threat: G.G., whose bullying is paralleled by the violence in his stories; Alex, who can't "write" and goes to a special class, but who proves to be a gifted satirist; obstreperous, punk Tierney, whose hard-boiled detective stories aren't meant to be parodies; even cheerleader Wendy, who writes trite romances but whose niceness turns out to be real. As the five learn to give and accept constructive criticism, they also begin to respect each other's gifts; by the time their advisor is hospitalized, the group has become so important that they continue meeting privately, in the fabulous treehouse built by Libby's granddad. The characters here are pungent and believable, their interaction well-realized. Revealing details--Libby's extensive collections, kept in the servants' quarters of the old family mansion; the stories read at the workshop sessions--meld with a carefully paced story that comes to a climax when the others dramatically rescue G.G. from his abusive father, but that also thoughtfully explores the enriching value of diversity--and demonstrates, along the way, how to use words to reflect it. A grand, multileveled novel.