Ten Things I Hate About Me, by Randa Abdel-Fattah:
Tenth-grader Jamilah Towfeek has done everything she can to avoid letting her classmates know about her Lebanese-Muslim heritage. She lightens her hair. She wears blue contact lenses. And, at school, she calls herself Jamie. She loves the part of her life that she hides (well, minus her father's over-protectiveness), but she's scared that if the truth of her real self emerges, she'll be treated differently by her friends and peers.
I was really disappointed in this book. I'd enjoyed the author's first book, but this one was full of completely unbelievable dialogue. This is Jamie's friend Amy talking about a popular boy in their class:
"He has power in the classroom. The computer geeks hang on his every word, even when he's making fun of them. Ahmed and Danielle's gang say they hate him but I think they secretly crave his approval. He can even make his enemies care."
Imagine not just a tenth grader, but ANYONE actually saying that. Can't do it, right? Add that dialogue to a plethora of two-dimensional characters and a few Big Lessons Learned, and the result is a really weak, somewhat irritating read. As with the first book, it was interesting to get a glimpse of teenage life and cultural tensions in another country, but ultimately, the flaws won out.
Sophomore Switch, by Abby McDonald
After an incident involving a reality television star, a hot-tub, and her own topless self, UC Santa Barbara student Tasha is very, very willing to fly to England and spend a semester at Oxford. Her place at UCSB is taken by strait-laced Oxford student Emily. Fish-out-of-water shenanigans ensue, two makeovers happen (complete with shopping montages), and both girls learn lessons about moderation, actions having consequences, and following one's heart.
Enjoyable and cute, but full of stereotypes and broadly-drawn stock characters, and the girls' voices were interchangeable.
Book sources: The Abdel-Fattah, borrowed from my library, though a review copy from the publisher arrived after I'd finished reading; the McDonald was a review copy from the publisher. Both books are Cybils nominees.
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