Review Detail

girl stuff Featured
Kids Fiction 551
Clique for the New Millenium
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Fonda is super excited that her best friends and neighbors (nesties!) will be going to her middle school for 7th grade. Ruthie had gone to a private school, and Drew to a Catholic one, so Fonda is making a lot of plans for how she and her friends can make a big splash, much like the Avas, a group of popular girls. They can have a color of the day, pick the best table at lunch, and start trends the way that Fonda's high school age sisters always have. Of course, plans in middle school are often ruined, and Ruthie's schedule has her spending the entire day with her Talented and Gifted classmates. They even learn through lunch, so she doesn't even go to the Lunch Garden (the book is set in California, where the weather is always good). Drew had met a boy over the summer who was just as interested in skateboarding as she was, but when she sees him at school, he is very standoffish. The three friends struggle to maintain their friendship while also doggedly pursuing their own goals. Ruthie eventually decides that she will start to do poorly on her school work in order to get kicked out of the TAG program, even though she really enjoys it and has even found a good friend in Sage. Fonda has made some inroads in being accepted by the Avas; while she would rather have had her own group of friends that could be popular, she's so determined to be part of the "in" crowd that she's willing to lie to her friends when she is invited to the Avas' party on the same night that the girls have a sleepover planned. When she pretends she has food poisoning, Drew plays along and pretends as well, because Will has invited her to the party as well. Of course, all three figure out that all of them are at the party. Will they be able to repair their friendship while pursuing their own interests?
Good Points
This is a perfect example of the types of problems that most of my readers like to see reflected in books. Friend drama is so prevalent in middle school, and it's always something slightly different. Reading about the experience of others makes readers feel better. Older sisters who are cooler. A boy whom you like but who acts weird in public. Wanting to be in an accelerated academic program but missing your friends. These are things that affect a lot more students than the death of a parent or sibling. The Clique series was one that my daughter loved when she was in middle school, and aside from Harry Potter and the odd, unexpected title, it was nearly impossible to get her to finish a book. Books like Girl Stuff take no hand selling whatsoever; I just need to put them on a front facing display, and they are immediately picked up.

There are plenty of moments in this that are cringe worthy, but they are so true to life. Remember the magazine column in Young Miss, called Was My Face Red? No, of course not, because that magazine hasn't been published in years. But young readers still like reading about the pain other people feel, especially when they come all too close to experiencing it themselves! It's great to see more diversity in school stories. This was fun book that I will be glad to share with a wide range of readers who enjoy Melissa Kantor, Suzanne Nelson, and J.J. Howard.
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