Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Better You Than Me

Brody, Jessica. Better You Than Me
November 13th 2018 by Delacorte Press
Copy provided by the publisher

Ruby Rivera is the star of a popular genie-themed television show, but she's not entirely happy with the life that entails. Skylar Welshman, A Ruby Rivera super fan,  has had to move from Massachusetts to California with her mother, who is a professor, and is really not happy with the way the girls in her new school are treating her. When one day is especially bad, she hops on a bus to go to the studio where Ruby is filming, and the two end up locked in a props closet together... and change bodies. A lot of fast-footwork by phone is necessary to get both girls up to speed with each others' lives, but they muddle on pretty well. Ruby is thrilled to be living with a professor of literature and lots of books, glad to be able to eat whatever she wants, and even deals with the mean girls fairly effectively. Skylar points out flaws in the script, gets to talk to teenie bopper stars she loves, and is willing to put up with the crazy demands of Ruby's mother because... she's a star! For a while, both girls love their new lives, but eventually, the pressures catch up and they each make decisions that have lasting impact, they both decide that while having a different life, they miss their mothers and are willing to give up the other's life in order to go back home.
Strengths: This hits so many topics pertaining to teen life in a pitch-perfect way-- friends, not knowing exactly who you want to be, glamorizing celebrity life, mean girls, crushes. I asked about 15 tween girls yesterday if they thought, to be totally honest, that if circumstances were right, they could be actors, and they all admitted that the thought was in their brain, even if they were reluctant to admit it! This is similar to Jen Calonita's Secrets of My Hollywood Life, but with the added body-switching, which is always fun. Most enjoyable thing I've read in a while, and the cover has staying power.
Weaknesses: Thinking back to when I was that age, I would gladly have stayed Ruby Rivera, even if it meant never seeing my mother again. And I liked my mother! The girls just seemed so happy with their new lives, and their old lives just weren't a good fit. The way it was written was good; I just didn't quite believe it. Also, it would have been nice if Ruby's costar Ryder Vance had been a bit more romantic to Skylar, but that wouldn't really work.
What I really think: Very fun! I can see this being popular. Not sure how I feel about Brody referencing one of her own books ala Jacqueline Wilson-- my daughter always hated that, but I didn't care as much.
Ms. Yingling

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