Brooke's Not-So-Perfect Plan
Brooke, Vanessa, and Heather have been friends for as long as they can remember, and they're positive they'll rock their first year of middle school. The trio decides to sign up for a journalism elective, and they find themselves columnists for the school's newspaper, the Lincoln Log. They and their new friend Tim are put in charge of the advice column!
The year is going perfectly for Brooke. She has her friends, her travel soccer team, the advice column, and a lot of new activities . . . but maybe too many activities. As Brooke struggles to balance all her commitments and schoolwork, she realizes she may have bitten off more than she can chew. Can she figure out how to have it all and stay on the advice column without sacrificing her other responsibilities?
I started watching the morning and evening news when I was ten years old and did three years of journalism in high school, so you could call me a fan of the news. Juuuuuuuust maybe. I’m also a fan of cute middle-grade novels because the warm feeling they give me at their best is a good substitute for the warm feeling I get from being around my cats.
It’s been a while since I was on the newspaper staff way back in high school (aka five years ago), but reading Brooke’s Not-So-Perfect Plan brought back fond memories of my newsie days. Interviewing students during lunch for articles, editing other students’ articles as senior editor, the joy of seeing my name in print as the author of something,… The book is so sweet and funny it made me temporarily forget how hectic newsie life was too! Middle school is generally awful, but Brooke’s misadventures with her friends will make you miss it just a little bit.
If you were or are an overachiever, you’ll see a lot of yourself in Brooke and relate to how she wants to do everything but seems to get nothing done. I wasn’t in much of a reading mood when I got to Brooke’s Not-So-Perfect Plan, but the giggleworthy incidents of Brooke being dyed purple and Vanessa getting stuck under a chair put me back into one! This is the kind of book that will fix almost any bad mood.
What Left Me Wanting:
However, the novel is a little aimless at times as Brooke tries to do everything–stay on her soccer team and become captain, be the section head for the advice column, run for sixth-grade president, and more–and gets very little done because she’s so spread so thin. An overachiever learning her limits is a viable plot, but there needs to be something cohesive to bind it all together and there’s no such thing in Brooke’s story. Without that cohesive element, it’s hard to want to pick the book back up once you set it down.
My suspension of disbelief was tested by the school paper’s apparently small staff but enormous popularity. What I observed in high school was that a paper’s staff is directly related to the paper’s popularity among the student body. My school paper’s staff was ten people my sophomore year, seven my junior year, and three my senior year. All three years, we had little to no interest from students in either taking the class or reading the paper. We got a different school’s newspaper mailed to us regularly and they had a fifty-plus student staff in addition to lots of interest both in and out of the school. The inverse relationship between the Lincoln Log‘s popularity (so popular that supporting character Tim becomes a school celebrity) and its staff size seems strange to me.
Still, Brooke’s Not-So-Perfect Plan is a sweet-as-sugar start to a new MG series sure to entertain middle-schoolers, teenagers, and adults alike. I’m suddenly very glad my ARC of this book came as a 2-in-1 edition and I can get started on Vanessa’s Fashion Face-Off when I’m ready!
*nostalgia-inducing if you were ever on a school newspaper
*good fix for a bad mood or reading slump