Tracy, Kristen. Too Cool for this School.
August 6th 2013
by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central and Reviewed there
Nominated for the Cybils by Little Willow
Lane Cisco is riding high at Rio Chama Middle School, where she has successfully been selected as a seventh grade class captain, so is in the good graces of 8th graders Leslie and Robin. She'll get to help plan the parties and hang out with the other super cool, well-dressed captains. Her picture will be permanently displayed! Things are great (she even has a "secret" boyfriend, Todd) until her cousin Angelina comes from Alaska to spend a month with her family while her mother is on a honeymoon. Angelina is weird, messy and has the audacity to wear things like glow-in-the-dark wolf t -shirts and not care what anyone else thinks. Not only that, but she decides to go by "Mint", her middle name, and takes Lane's classroom by storm. Of course, the cool girls know that she is hopeless and give Lane a hard time, but Todd and his friend Jagger (who is the crush of Lane's best friend, Ava) think she is awesome. Lane tries everything she can to tone down Mint's personality, but fails utterly. She does manage, however, to salvage her reputation as a class captain and make her peace with Mint.
Strengths: Middle school girls love books where girls are mean to each other (The Clique, Dork Diaries), and this has the added complication of a relative actually having to share a room. Lane's struggles with popularity and clothing will ring true to many girls. I appreciated that there was a big class project on Julie of the Wolves, which is a classic that still actually gets read.
Weaknesses: Lane had a very high slappage factor, and never really grew as much as I hoped she would. The "class captain" subplot seemed odd to me, and I personally never understand the whole "being popular" and obsession with clothes in middle school. Still, this will get checked out.