Monday, December 3, 2012
Jodi Lynn Anderson
Simon & Schuster, 2010
Plot Summary: Poor Cammy Hall. She’s starting her junior year of high school and is pretty much used to being considered a total loser. Instead of trying to attain popularity, she’s decided she’s going to aim lower—try to remain under the radar and coast on through. Unfortunately, this plan fails when she accidentally flashes the cool kids at the school dance and everyone sees her granny panties. She has no idea how she’ll survive this utter humiliation until she receives an anonymous text message one night with instructions on how to get over it and rise to the top of the popularity food chain. First, she is given precise instructions for the demise of the current “it” girl. When she succeeds in her mission, she is given more and more instructions to follow to help her rise even further. However, when she and her best friend, foreign exchange student Gerdi, have a big fight over Cammy blindly following the whims of an anonymous texter, Gerdi wants to stop helping her especially since the tasks went from random acts of kindness to things more vengeful and mean. Will Cammy go through with the plan or will she stand up for herself and save her friendship with Gerdi even if that means falling back into obscurity?
Critical Evaluation: This is a funny book. Anderson actually wrote it with fans’ help. She posted the first chapter online and then had people choose the direction the story would take. Cammy is a loveable girl who gets mixed up in she doesn’t really understand. She really wants to forget the embarrassment at the dance and become popular so she blindly follows her texter’s instructions which bring out the demise of the popular girl. She feels bad because she really didn’t know what would happen. In fact, most of the initial things the texter has her do actually are nice things. The plot keeps readers guessing as to who the mysterious benefactor is until the end. The friendship with Gerdi—who talks in broken English and misunderstands things (presented in a loving and realistic and not culturally cruel or stereotyped way)—is at the heart of the book and it is truly heartbreaking when Gerdi dumps Cammy when she won’t give up her quest for ultimate popularity. Some elements of the book are a little far-fetched (a secret labyrinth of hallways inside the school walls, the fact that Cammy changes one students’ grades and no one seems to notice, etc.) however, one can easily overlook these minor things and enjoy the story as a good tale of a girl’s attempted rise up the popularity totem pole.
Reader's Annotation: Cammie follows the anonymous advice of a texter who tells her what to do to reach the top of the popularity chain.
Author Information: Jodi Lynn Anderson is the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches, The Secrets of Peaches, Love and Peaches, the popular May Bird trilogy, and Tiger Lily. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and an endless parade of stray pets (Harper Collins, 2012).
Genre: Realistic, Humor
Curriculum Ties: N/A
Booktalking Ideas: Read about Cammie’s embarrassment in front of the whole school. Read about Cammie and how she brought down the reigning popular girl.
Reading Level/Interest Age: 13+
Challenge Issues: N/A
Challenge Defense: N/A
Reason for Inclusion: This is a hilarious book that was actually made with the help of the author’s fans.