Lorelei, a wealthy Washington, D.C., 11-year-old, starts a diary as a way of staying in touch with her beloved dead cat, Mud. At first the diary seems fairly straightforward, detailing the day-to-day travails of a sixth grader: fights with her brothers (one older, one younger), arguments with her parents, worries about the loyalty of her best friend. But as fall turns into winter, it becomes clear that Lorelei's privileged home life is falling apart, with constant fights between her erratic and selfish parents. Meanwhile, Lorelei is performing in the school play, befriending the least popular girl in her grade and getting close with sexy Bo. Despite writing that tends toward the oversimplified—at times the verisimilitude between this literary diary and the writings of an actual sixth grader is a little too good—the characterizations of Lorelei's antagonists are gratifyingly complex, revealing parents, bullies and teachers as imperfect but not villainous. A gently humorous outing from Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson, with a touch of slapstick to lighten the (slightly overplotted) poignancy. (Fiction. 8-10) Read full book review >
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