Ally was enjoying her priveleged life in an upscale neighborhood in Orchard Hills until her father's investments tanked-- not only for their family but for many of their neighbors and friends. After a year and a half away, Ally's mother has decided to return to the area. Ally is not accepted back into the group, but is instantly attracted to Jake, who has moved into her family's house. She struggles through finding a new place within the school social strata, makes some new friends and even more enemies. Old friends have different reactions, and for different reasons. Shannen is determined to get back at Ally because of her interest in Jake, Chloe is hurt because Ally didn't reply to an invitation, and Faith is bitter about the money and is keeping a secret. All pretty usual high school drama, but done realistically. The wealth is apparent but designer names are mercifully kept to a minimum; this is really more about the interpersonal drama than the wealth, and the open ending makes it seem like a sequel might be in the offing.
Love so many of Scott's books-- Jingle Boy, Nonblonde Cheerleader, (and as Kate Brian) Lucky T, The Princess and the Pauper-- just about everything but her Private series, which is more for high school. As is this title-- the story is told in chapters alternating between Jake and Ally, and when Jake starts narrating, he jumps right into the profanity pool and keeps swimming for the whole book. Booklist described this as "nongratuitous", but I thought it was extremely gratuitous. Is such word use "realistic"? Absolutely. Which is why it is all the more important it NOT be used in books. I have enough of a battle with my children's word choice without them getting the idea that it is okay to use because books do. I can't buy this one for the middle school, and it does make me sad. For a similar book, try Vail's Lucky instead.
Gal, Susan. Please Take Me For a Walk.
I don't blog picture books as a rule, but this was so absolutely charming that I had to mention it. This simple story lists all the reasons that the dog likes to go for walks ("to keep the squirrels high up in the trees", "I want to feel the wind lift my ears and the sun warm my belly") interspersed with increasingly sad pleas of "please take me for a walk". The eyes on the dog are so expressive. This author has another title, Night Lights, with another dog. May have to venture into the picture book section to get this one as well.
After all, aside from going for walks, the thing that my dog Sylvie likes best is to sit on the porch and read!