What if you were the only girl living in a boys’ military boarding school? Fourteen-year-old Suzette LeBlanc moves into the Sanford Naval Academy in Florida when her dad becomes its new Commandant. Walking through the school lobby, she feels like something on a specimen slide in biology class. (It doesn’t help that she’s nearsighted and refuses to wear her ugly glasses.) Suzette struggles to fit in with the older, more sophisticated midshipmen as well as the girls in the Catholic high school she attends across town. In between the pranks - from a riotous cast of characters - and the prom, she’s invited to join the cheer-leading squad and finds a friend in the squad captain, Debbie. Life looks good until a local girl becomes pregnant and a midshipman is believed to be responsible. That’s when Suzette must turn to her parents to save the school from retribution. Will she be in time?
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The historical context adds depth to the plot, as the story is set around the time that Disneyworld was being built. This added a healthy dose of interest, as it showed how the issues that teens deal with nowadays were dealt with in the late 1960s and early 1970s. From drinking to worrying about the romantic implications of the drive-in to teen pregnancy, Renee Garrison touches on a variety of topics that are still relevant in teen life today. It helps today's teens see that they are not alone, and that life occurred before them and will continue to do so once they become adults. It was also fun to learn that the author herself grew up in the same way as Suzette, moving every few years and living in the Sanford Naval Academy with her parents when her dad took a job there. This was a welcome addition, making the story unique.
The storylines would have been better told as a series of short stories, which is the way this book started off before it was published as a novel. There were a lot of separate storylines that did not seem to connect with each other as well as they could have. Learning about each individual character in more depth and detail would increase engagement with the plot. It was sometimes hard to follow who was who and why they mattered from plot point to plot point and character to character. Some of the storylines also felt a bit rushed, as though they came out of nowhere and then were not explained fully enough. Yet, the novel came together, and Suzette learned how friends, boys, parents, and life in general can often get in the way of having a few normal teenage years.