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Summary: Ask Phoebe Avery, and she'll tell you that despite two older sisters, she's lucky. She is the valedictorian of her Eighth grade class; she's planning a graduation party with her four best friends, and she thinks Luke likes her. She even found the perfect dress! But then life throws her a curve that's more than she can handle. She realizes she has lost everything - her best friend, her status, and her lucky life. Where can she go from here? This is book 1 of a triology that explores the world of elite teens. This is a high interest / low readability book for reluctant readers.
Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading
Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 13 and up
Interest Level: 10 and up
Reading Level: 4.2
Age of Child: Read by student at the Woodside Magnet High School for Arts and Communication (Newport News, VA) and Denbigh High School (Newport News, VA) as part of our Use Your ABCs program.
Young Reader Reaction: Woodside: I picked up this book from the collection because I liked the cover. It was very interesting, even in the first chapter. I wanted to keep reading to see what was going on. It was written in a way that I could understand it, and it was also about things high school students need to know about. I liked how the story showed you that you don't need things to be happy. Family is more important than money. Denbigh: I thought the book was going to be boring because it didn't catch my attention, but my perception changed. It was better toward the middle and end. I learned that you don't ever think anything bad can happen to you. Anything can happen, you just have to be ready for it and know how to react and handle the situation. I recommend that you borrow this book to see if you like it or not. I have to say that I'm glad I borrowed this book.
Adult Reader Reaction: This was a surprise. At first, Phoebe and her friends seemed to have the same shallow personalities that we see in today's teen stars: cattiness, privilege, a caste system, etc. Eventually, that falls to the background as we see more of life through Phoebe's eyes. The story comes together nicely and her speech really clinches the book!
Pros: This is a fast read for teens in junior high/middle school. They will see themselves (and others) in the various events and character interplay.
Cons: None, other than wishing there were more books with teens that didn't glamorize the persona of "elite teens."
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a good read and teens will enjoy the fast pace. It may even be enough to get a reluctant reader interested in reading (and ready to read the next book). Student reviewer: Buy! This was a good book to read for fun ... and a whole lot better than what we have to read for school.