(Pretty cute cover.)
I'm torn on how to rate Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child. On the one hand, it's pretty cute, totally age-appropriate, and had me literally laughing out loud at times. On the other hand, the main character wasn't actually terribly likable, and I'm disappointed that this isn't a book I feel good about passing along to any nieces.
When the book opens, we find the main character, Charlie C. Cooper, alone in her room reading adult nonfiction books on the psychology of being a middle child. We learn very quickly that her family has felt the need to entirely relocate to a new city because of a prank that she pulled at her last school, wherein she dosed the entire kindergarten with laxatives. She now has regular appointments with a psychologist and has spent the summer grounded. Her psychologist gives her an assignment for the upcoming school year: she must find the least popular, most bullied girl in her new class and become her friend. Charlie is NOT happy about this.
What follows should be a tale of redemption. Charlie starts a new school and discovers that everyone has value and that the prettiest girls aren't always the nicest girls. However, the book fell a little flat on that. The reader is inside Charlie's head, so we hear all the mean thoughts she's having about Marta (the least popular girl) even as she makes shallow overtures toward her. Charlie also has a lot of trouble listening to anyone older than her. She repeatedly puts down her teenaged sister and belittles her mom and thinks her psychologist is a joke. While the ending does come out alright with Charlie working together with Marta to take one of the popular girls down a notch, the damage has been done.
Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child was well-written, and will appeal to some. The eleven- and twelve-year-olds that I know personally.... I just don't think the repeated belittling of parents, junk food consumption, and "oh my Gods" are going to fly with them. Oh well.
So I guess I'll give this 3 stars. I laughed a little, and I know there's an audience out there for it somewhere, I just haven't met them yet.
*I own my copy of Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child but will probably do a giveaway after I read the sequel, Watch Out, Hollywood!.