Review: Callie's Rules, by Naomi Zucker. Middle Grade fiction; 225 pages (fast read).
I was attracted to this book in the beginning, because Callie is a bit like I was in Jr. High--still a kid, and clueless about all this new stuff the other girls all seem to know. And right off on page 7 there's a great quote about rules, the kind of rules that govern the behavior of teen girls, not the kind that schools make:
Stupid rules. Well, rules are rules. They're not supposed to make sense. they're supposed to make the people who know the rules feel good and the people who don't know the rules feel stupid. Too true! These are rules for how to fit in, how to be cool, and by the end of the book Callie figures out that the girls who slavishly follow them are fools.
The premise of the novel is two-fold: Callie is just starting middle school (6th grade), which is a huge transition and she really doesn't get it. At the same time, the richest woman in her rather small town has decided that Halloween is a pagan festival, both too frightening for small children and designed to lure kids into satanism or something. Since she is the banker's wife, she is able to convince lots of people, including the Town Council, that she is right. So while Callie is trying to fit in at her new school, she is also trying to save her favorite holiday. The two tasks seem to be completely incompatible, since being an activist means standing out.
The story is fairly well told, and the message is sound: to be yourself and to stand up for what you believe in. I think it will appeal to middle-grade girls, and may be of some help to those trying to navigate all those unspoken social rules of middle school. Overall, however, I wasn't satisfied. The story didn't feel real, with characters and situation that were just a bit over the top. That's fine, of course, in the right book--one that knows it's over the top. I didn't feel like this one did. It was good enough, but just didn't work for me, despite my appreciation of the message.
So that's it. A to Z is finished! Tomorrow I'll be doing my reflections on the Challenge, and laying out some of the things I've learned and decided about my blog. I will then return to my 3-4 day/week blogging schedule!