You already know that I’m a fan of her Al Capone series. This book is not historical fiction but realistic fiction rather and is told from two alternating perspectives (is that the new trend now or what?). Kirsten McKenna doesn’t fit in at her snobby private school because she is overweight and has family problems. Walk (Walker) Jones doesn’t fit in at the same school because he is black. These two somehow accidentally become friends, then discover a secret that rocks both of their worlds!
The first time I actually listened to this one on audiobook, and as I was mopping the floor the “secret” came out in my headphones and I stopped mopping and exclaimed, “OH MY GAWD!!!” and my kids (my own) freaked out thinking something was wrong! So I truly enjoyed this book MYSELF and really like seeing my students’ reactions when they stumble upon the “secret.”
What I love so much about this book is that it feels so *real* – you know the kind. The everyday middle school situations portrayed in this book are so realistic that it took me back to middle school which was NOT a good time in my life! Here’s a little excerpt. You need to know that Kirsten is insecure about being overweight (and she is quite a bit) and Brianna is the queen bee of the popular girls.
Brianna looks at me, pizza in hand. “Oh my god, I am so fat! Look at this, you guys.” Brianna lifts up her shirt to show her perfectly flat, tanned stomach with a diamond-pierced navel. “Don’t you think I’m fat? I’m going to have to lose ten pounds before the talent show.”
Rory jumps in. “No, you look great.”
“I’d give anything for a stomach like that,” Lauren agrees.
“Me too,” Maya says.
“Hey, want to work out tonight?” Madison suggests. “My dad just got a new ab cruncher.”
“Wait,” Brianna says. “I want to know what Kirsten thinks. Don’t you think I’m fat, Kirsten?”
“No,” I say, zipping up my lunch bag.
“I know. Let’s see who’s fatter. Kirsten, let’s see your belly. Come on. Mine’s fatter, I swear to god, Kirsten. Don’t you swear, Rory?”
“Well, I, uh…,” Rory wheezes.
“Come on, Kirsten.” Brianna looks around the crowded cafeteria. “No one’s even looking. No one’s going to see but us. And I’m going to lose. I swear I will.”
“Brianna, cut it out,” Madison whispers. “My mother will kill me if…”
“If what?” Brianna turns on her.
“You know.” Madison rocks her head from side to side. At first I think she’s standing up for me, but then I realize she just doesn’t trust me not to tell my mother.”
“Kirsten’s not going to run home and tell her mommy, are you, Kirsten?” Brianna asks.
I want to leave, but I’m stuck to my seat. I look at the clock. Lunch is almost over. If only the bell will ring.
“I think Kirsten’s too thin.” Brianna can barely contain herself. “So here.” She hands me the rest of her pizza and bursts out laughing. “Fatten up.”
The pizza is in front of me. The cheese is all melty, just the way I like it. My stomach grumbles. I imagine sinking my teeth into it.
“Look, she’s going to eat it,” Brianna whispers.
I toss the pizza in the garbage can fast and pretend with all my heart that Brianna was wrong.
Have you read it? What’d you think about it? If you haven’t.. add it to your list, along with the others I keep telling you to add!
Eight of my 6th graders are reading this book now with their literature circles!