by Heather Vogel Frederick
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
When I first started reading this book, it felt pretty contrived and derivative of other stuff I’ve read, like the Beacon Street Girls series by Annie Bryant and the Flower Power series by Lauren Myracle – an unlikely group of four friends thrown together by some circumstance. There’s the fashion-conscious one, the sporty one, the chubby one, and the nerdy one; a redhead; at least one racial minority; at least one single parent, etc. This one had a twist of having the mothers thrown in, and the book connection, which was refreshing and, at times, moving. It was well-written, and takes place nearby to my library (Concord, MA) so it was a pleasure to read. The girls do end up being friends, but not totally. I liked the variety of issues they were dealing with (death of a parent, temporary absence of a parent, poverty, bullying) and ways in which those relationships shifted and were prodded throughout the book. I did think that Emma’s chubbiness was paralleled with the overweight villain of the story being scorned by the mothers and was not handled with sensitivity. The other part that felt contrived was when they all went to New York City and everyone got to do something amazing, some of the kids even got incredible starts to their careers, one caught a fly ball at a Yankees/Red Sox game, that all happened to be the same week that one of the mothers was starting a cooking show managed in New York (but conveniently shot at their home in Concord). It required suspension of disbelief, but was still fun escapist reading.