Young, Karen Romano. Hundred Percent
August 2nd 2016 by Chronicle Books
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Life is changing rapidly for Christine "Tink" Gouda. Even though she and her best friend, Jackie, used to dress alike and be very close, Tink has gotten tall and developed, but Jackie is the one who has developed social savvy. Their class at school seems very close, and there are a lot of inside jokes, and Tink finds herself at the mercy of the class jokester... whom she finds herself kid of liking. There is the added complication of Jackie's mom dating a man with children about the age of the girls, and we see how everyone interacts, and witness the many ways that Tink manages to embarrass herself over the course of a year.
Strengths: I was really looking forward to this-- there is a huge demand for realistic fiction about middle school issues in my library, and it's the sort of thing I like best.
Weaknesses: This had several things that made it odd. Even though it was clearly set in the present (technology is mentioned), many of the songs and clothing (pants with whales embroidered on them?) seemed dated. A lot of the dialogue between Jackie and Tink was set up like a play instead of incorporated into the narrative. Also, Tink's concerns and the language of the book seemed much more like an adult looking back at middle school instead of reflecting what a current middle school student would actually think. ("When it was just her, she sometimes felt beautiful. She liked herself. Alone, she was a sugar cube, settled, with firm edges and strong corners. But when other people were around she thought that some of them were better--smarter, funnier, cuter, thinner, hotter, cooler-- and she felt herself come apart a little, like sugar on the kitchen table, spilled from a spoon." Page 62, ARC)
What I really think: I don't think I'll buy this one, but I imagine that it will be a favorite of teachers and librarians everywhere, because of the rich figurative language and introspective nature.