Since I enjoyed the first two books in this series featuring “nerdy” high school kids who triumph over the popular kids, I was eager to read this one. Although even more predictable than the first two, and with characters not quite as lovable, this one still ought to please tween audiences.
Jane Smith is the best friend of MacKenzie Wellesley and Corey O’Neal. They used to form a reliable threesome of “Invisibles” (as opposed to the “Notables”) at high school, but now both MacKenzie and Corey have significant others, and Jane is feeling even more invisible than usual.
Instead of fighting back, she only gets more insecure and withdrawn. She starts keeping a secret journal of stories, usually featuring herself and her friends. She would love to write fiction for the school newspaper, but she is only the “grammar girl.” The nasty editor, Lisa Anne Montgomery, agrees to give her a shot at a front page story, and pairs her with the cute but hostile photographer, Scott Fraser, warning Jane this will be her one and only chance so she better come up with a good story.
Quite predictably, one of Jane’s private stories (revealing a bit too much about her best friends), ends up in Lisa’s hands, and makes the front page of the newspaper. Chaos ensues, and making things right will require Jane to take a huge risk to fight not only for the friends she loves, but for herself.
Discussion: Bates adds a nice mix of humor to this story. For example, when Jane gets detention, she thinks:
“Detention is nothing like The Breakfast Club. I sat down in my hard plastic chair hoping there would be some group bonding, maybe a little dancing, a few heart-to-heart moments set to eighties music. John Hughes shouldn’t have given me such high expectations.”
Jane’s boss at her part-time job at the bookstore, Mrs. Blake, also adds comic relief as an endearingly quirky character.
But this book is actually “darker” (if you could call any of them dark) than the other stories. And the mistake Jane made could have had some horrible consequences, although of course, it all worked out. But I think, for that reason, this book would be good to read and discuss along with teens. There are plenty of issues that arise, like peer pressure, pre-judging others, the importance of parental support, and understanding the consequences of your actions, that could be debated.
Evaluation: This is a cute story with a lot of potential for “lessons” and discussion.
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2013