This is my review of Maria T. Lennon’s new novel, Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child. It appears in the September issue of School Library Journal.
Fresh and sassy, Lennon’s middle grade novel is the story of Charlie, a twelve-year-old girl who is starting over at a new school after an incident involving, of all things, laxatives. Entering the 7th grade, Charlie is torn between wanting to be friends with the popular crowd and wanting to be a better person. She speaks in snappy dialogue that sounds like the script of a witty tween TV drama – but she’s a far more likeable and entertaining character than many of the girls portrayed there. As part of Charlie’s rehabilitation plan, her therapist, Dr. Scales, gives her a task: “to find the most bullied girl in your class and take her under your wing.” The object of Charlie’s plan is a classmate named Marta, who Charlie describes as looking like a “homeless Disney princess.” What begins as a obligatory project that will make Charlie a kinder, more empathetic, friend, turns into a laugh-out-loud adventure as the two girls confront truly mean girls and have an adventure during which Charlie’s genuine good nature shines through – especially when she learns a secret about Marta’s life outside of school. As the title implies, Charlie has two siblings, an older sister and a younger brother, both of whom are excellent foils for Charlie’s growing appreciation for her family. Lennon’s novel is written as a memoir into which Charlie regularly inserts “True Facts.” Here’s one more True Fact: Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child is a funny story with a winning heroine who develops into a loyal and resourceful friend, daughter and sister.
We had all kinds of fun in the Library today. Kids were reading books, playing with book characters – and using books to improve their posture!!