Liz Gallagher's book, The Opposite of Invisible, follows Alice, who suddenly recieves the attention of a popular football player. This moves her into a wider social circle and out of "invisibility", but also alienated her from Jewel, her best friend, who likes her as "more than a friend". Not surprisingly, the football player treats her badly, and she starts to miss Jewel. This slim, lyrical volume does cover some high school issues (drinking), but is a tender treatment of the heartbreak of first romances.
So of course I prefered Shannon Greenland's The Specialist: Model Spy. Geeky but gorgeous orphan Kelly (GiGi) James is caught hacking into a government computer system and told that she can either do time in a juvenile detention center or join an elite spy force of other orphan kids with spectacular abilities. Yes, very much like Robert Muchamore's C.H.E.R.U.B. series, but with more eye shadow romance. Her first assignment is to pretend to be a model in order to free her crush's (and fellow spy's) father from the clutches of evil doers. Lots of action, clever writing, and much, much fun. My 9th grader loved it and will be thrilled to know that there are three more volumes (which I immediately put on my book order): Down to the Wire, The Winning Element and Native Tongue. The first book is entirely suitable for middle school, with no language or anything else to which tender readers might object. I've not read the others, but I am taking a chance on them.
The problem was that the first book read, in the words of my daughter, like something that they would HAVE to read for language arts. Quality literature versus well-written but fluffy books that keep kids reading-- you know what my philosophical musings will be for today!