Monday, September 09, 2013

Hey Bessica, You Want a Little Cheese With That Whine?

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Bessica Lefter just wanted a new look for the first day of sixth grade.  That's all.  The 11-year-old never thought she'd lose her best friend, Sylvie Potaski, over one unfortunate haircut.  But Sylvie's mother has declared Bessica a bad influence and enrolled her daughter at a different school.  Left to figure middle school out on her own, Bessica's not exactly adjusting well.  She can't get her locker open, let alone deal with the psycho-bullies who torment her daily.  It doesn't help that her grandmother, the one person she can always talk to, is off on some cockamamie, six-week long RV trip with her dorky boyfriend.  Bessica's miserable—why aren't her parents and her beloved grandma getting this?  No one seems to understand.  If only she could convince Sylvie's mother to let the girls hang out again, or find some way to sabotage Grandma's trip, or find a way—any way—to fit in at her new school.  Joining the cheerleading squad seems to be the way to go, but what if that ends up just as disastrously as everything else?  Can Bessica find a way to survive middle school?  Chances are not looking good ...

I picked up The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter by Kristen Tracy because it looked like a quick, cute read.  And it was, just in kind of a generic, been-there-read-that kind of way.  Bessica's a fun narrator and sympathetic—at least to a point.  After a while, though, her constant misery starts to get old.  As she continues to wallow in her own self-pity, never reaching outside herself for a solution to her unhappiness, she just gets more self-centered and whiny.  In a character-driven novel, an annoying heroine is not a good thing.  In the end, The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter teaches a valuable lesson about finding your own way, but the uplifting message wasn't quite enough to counteract the book's irritating main character.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade: 


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find 


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