Reel Life Starring Us by Lisa Greenwald (NY: Amulet Books, 2011); reviewed from uncorrected e-proof provided by publisher via netgalley.com.
New girl Dina has just moved to Long Island from Massachusetts. She was cool there, so she'll be cool here, too, right? Instead she keeps discovering potato chips smashed in her backpack--something called being chipped at this new school, Rockwood Hills Junior High. She notices the cliques, too, that seem to be based on relative wealth. With her trusty video camera, Dina starts recording what she sees, and even lands an assignment to make a video for the school's 50th anniversary celebration; even better, her partner is the most popular girl in school, Chelsea. This can only help Dina's social status, of course. Only it doesn't really, and slowly Dina learns that there's more to everything than appearances, and maybe being in the most exclusive clique isn't worth all that much compared to having real friends who value her for herself.
Ah, the dangerous waters of middle school! Who can ever forget the scrupulous navigation they require, and how fruitless the entire experience is in the end. As in My Life in Pink and Green, Greenwald has created engaging characters with real problems that are serious, yet not enough to ruin a funny story. Dina's relentless optimism and charming insight infuse the novel with a cheerful glow, while Chelsea's struggles with keeping her father's unemployment and family's struggling finances a secret add a shade of gray. This is an excellent read for middle grades, highly recommended for ages 10 & up.
I read a lot, especially kid and young adult lit. This blog will review what I've been reading. I get most of my reading material from the library, plus I buy books at school book fairs and the usual stores. I look for freebies on Amazon for my Kindle, and I'm happy to review any ARCs or e-galleys I can get my hands on.