Sunday, July 24, 2022

Awkward Stuff (Girl Stuff #3)

Harrison, Lisi. Awkward Stuff (Girl Stuff #3)
July 26th 2022 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

After Girl Stuff and Crush Stuff, the "nesties" (next door neighbor besties) are back. Fonda is excited because her mother is finally going to leave the girls at home without a babysitter, putting her almost 17-year-old sister in charge. She, of course, decides to have a party. She is vaguely interested in Henry as the object of her first kiss, since she feels behind developmentally, not having gotten her period. Ruthie is pleased to at least have a boyfriend, Owen, who is in the Talented and Gifted Program with her. The two get along really well as friends. Drew has her sites set on Will, and the three girls determine that they will all have their first kisses at the beach party. (They live in Poplar Creek, California.) Owen and Ruthie get paired to take care of an animatronic baby for health class, Fonda doubts her feelings for Henry, especially when she finds out that Ava also likes him, and Drew is confused by the signals that Will is sending. Will the plans the girls are working on bring the romantic results they expect?
Strengths: While most middle grade novels love to revel in all manner of Serious Problems, most of my students are more concerned with finding a place to sit in the cafeteria, doing well in school, and, yes, finding a love interest. The "nesties" are certainly buying into the idea of transactionalized romance, and go all in to find a boyfriend and then finagle him into kissing. There are just enough details about the kissing bit that younger readers will be enthralled, as well as worries about Will's "bumpy tongue". My daughter was an enormous fan of all of the drama in Harrison's Clique series, and I was very glad that sixth graders rediscovered those books and were checking them out like mad this year! Those books are older than tmy students are but must hold up well. The Girl Stuff books are nice and short, with tons of drama and details about things like getting periods, talking to boys, and hanging out at the mall. Wait. There are still malls?
Weaknesses: Are there still schools that have health classes that teach information about puberty? I hated those classes when I was in school, so wasn't at all sad when our district cut them in the early 2000s, but understand that there is a need for that information among young students. We have a health class now, but it's more about nutrition and exercise. Found it especially hard to think anyone teaches a parenting component to sex ed, but there must be some places that do. And Fonda and her sisters have never been left at home alone? I was allowed to stay home sick by myself when I was ten!
What I really think: This was sooooo super cringey, and as an adult I just wanted to tell the girls to get a life; boys are not that interesting or important. Of course, when I was in middle school and bedeviling a poor, innocent trumpet player named Jon with similar machinations, I would have totally loved this. Will purchase, along with the second book, which I need to read. 
 Ms. Yingling


  1. Oh, man - having taken a parenting class in high school in the mid-00s, I can tell you that those animatronic babies were way too expensive to trust with middle schoolers. I wonder if they're cheaper these days? Regardless, this feels like an update of the "baby-sit an egg" plot that used to show up in middle school stories pre-internet - I loved Baby-Sitters Club #52, Mary Anne + 2 Many Babies, and a book from the late 80s called The Baby-Sitting Crack-Up. I was just a few years too old for Lisi Harrison's books, but it sounds like they haven't changed a bit!

  2. Both books sound good. I agree about girls not taking boys SOOO seriously. But I wouldn't have believed it myself when I was a teen! Thanks for the reviews.