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Author: Sara Zarr

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Publisher: Little, Brown and Company,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Thank you, Cameron Quick. You disappeared, so you don't know it but you helped create Jenna Vaughn. She's the new and improved version of Jennifer Harris, the girl who was your friend in fifth grade! Jenna is a great girl 364 days a year. It's only on her birthday that Jennifer — that fat girl who cried and had no friends — surfaces and reminds her that her best friend Cameron disappeared that day. This is a YA novel that explores teen relationships and growing up. It is a high interest / low readability option.

Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 12 and up

Interest Level: 10 to 13

Reading Level: 4.4

Age of Child: Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™

Young Reader Reaction: This is an enjoyable story for teens ages 13 to 15. It has an appealing story line that keeps readers interested and wanting to know what happens next. There is one thing about this book I did not like. The author made it hard to distinguish between the past and present. She would go back and forth at times, writing first in the present, then switching to the past without any notice. I found this confusing, but other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would recommend buying this book as a gift for teenagers or checking it out from the library. It is definitely worth reading, and I believe that most teenagers will appreciate it. It contains all the aspects of an interesting story line, and is something any teenager could enjoy.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is a touching, thoughtful story. Within the first couple pages you get a glimpse of the story that will unfold, and you are wrapped up instantly. Jenna is a fabulous narrator, and the author does an outstanding job allowing her to let the story unfold in her own way. Although Jenna and Cameron are the main players, the author surrounds them with other central figures who add depth to their character and help the reader join the crowd. The presentation of the story in vignettes and lots of white space per page should make this attractive to reluctant readers, too.

Pros: Teens (particularly girls) will enjoy this well-woven story of friendship, love, and growing up.

Cons: None, really. There are several scenes that present pre-marital sex. They are ancillary to the plot, not central to it. Still, we know that some may find the mere mention objectionable.

Borrow or Buy: Buy! This is likely to be a dog-eared book. Read, re-read, and shared. This is a perfect teen book club book.


Educational Themes: Teens will enjoy reading the book "just because." Still, there are several themes to explore: eating disorders (binging), stealing, impulse control, abuse, abusive relationships, friendship, the price of popularity, self-esteem, and being true to yourself.

Notes: The Reading Tub, Inc. reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Literary Categories: Fiction - Young Adult, friendship, realistic fiction

Date(s) Reviewed: March 2008

Other Reviews:


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