A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book deals with some serious topics having to do with race, sexuality, and class. One character deals drugs, another remains snotty until the end, and another threatens several fights. There is some tension between two male characters after one begins to design costumes for the theater department, putting his sexuality in question.
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What's the story?
Mina starts high school with one goal: popularity. But when she enrolls in a sociology class, the teacher pushes her to think about her prejudices. She is paired with three very different girls -- a label lover, a quiet girl, and a loud girl from the projects -- and their interactions raise questions about race, class, and popularity. Her pre-existing friendships with a white drama girl, a jock, and a possibly-gay boy also cause Mina (and her clique) to think, debate, and come to more mature resolutions.
Is it any good?
This kickoff to a new series is so thick, it's hard to wade through. The perspective and storylines change constantly, which can be overwhelming for young readers, though all of these characters and plot points will certainly give the author plenty of room to grow her series.
On the plus side, the dialogue, diary entries, and IM exchanges have a lively and authentic feel. ("Come on now. We girls. No one knows more about me than you," Mina tells Lizzie.) And there is plenty to think about -- from race and class issues to the politics of the high school lunch room. The author even includes a readers' group discussion guide.