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Brett McCarthy: Work In Progress by Maria…
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Brett McCarthy: Work In Progress

by Maria Padian

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Gr 6-9-Brett thinks she knows herself pretty well: star soccer player, vocabulary ace, and best friend to Diane. But in eighth grade, Diane is more interested in the cheerleading crowd and everything is changing. A telephone prank backfires and Jeanne Anne, a new girl, manages to shift the blame to Brett, even though four girls were involved. Feeling victimized and angry, she loses her temper at school and punches Jeanne Anne, resulting in suspension. Within a few days, her social status has changed drastically, and the upheaval is mirrored at home when Brett discovers that her fun-loving grandmother is battling cancer. Over the course of the story, she moves from anger and obstinacy to a tentative exploration of the characteristics that really define Brett McCarthy. Although her path to self-discovery has its bumps, she ultimately realizes that the way she has thought of herself in the past has been more limiting than liberating. Padian's portrayal of the relationship between Brett and her Nonna is poignant and honest, especially as the cancer progresses and the girl must begin to let go. Chapter titles consisting of vocabulary words that Brett uses to describe her various emotional states ("apoplectic," "foreboding," "unprecedented," "surreal") give hints of things to come, but it is Padian's fully developed characters and ear for teenage voices that make this a story that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt isolated in the middle of a crowd.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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  KimJD | Apr 8, 2013 |
MSBA nominee 2009-2010

I liked this book a lot. Brett is in 8th grade, a soccer star and vocabulary geek. One little prank, however, and her life starts to change, with a lot of her former definitions of herself going astray. Who is this new Brett McCarthy? ( )
  scote23 | Mar 30, 2013 |
funny and poignant. ( )
  awriter7777 | Dec 30, 2010 |
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

Normally a decent student, a star soccer player, and responsible only daughter, Brett McCarthy isn't exactly sure what is going wrong. First she is suspended, then earns unlimited lunchtime detentions with the middle school principal, and then she is suspended again. It is enough to freak anyone out.

To complicate matters, Brett learns that her long-time best friend is not only dealing with divorcing parents, but has also lost her mind and decided to try out for the cheerleading squad. With her friends deserting her, Brett turns to her grandmother, "Nonna," only to suspect something fishy is going on with her and some medical situation.

Brett is an extremely likeable teen dealing with a crazy middle school year. Typical adolescent problems are creatively mixed with Nonna's kooky schemes, a lot of chocolate brownie baking, and a plan to resurrect an old lighthouse. One adventure after another holds the readers' attention and keeps this story moving quickly.

Debut author Maria Padian has something for everyone in this book. Brett's father, an English professor, provides countless poetry references for just about any situation. Brett's own love of vocabulary shows up as she introduces a new word with each chapter. And with 45 quick-read chapters, readers are bound to increase their personal vocabulary whether they want to or not. There is no shortage of humor. I found myself chuckling plenty. Padian doesn't shy away from heart-rending emotion, either. Be sure to have a tissue or two close at hand. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 10, 2009 |
Decent book on a new sort of teen girl. Not filled with typical boy angst. The voice was confusing - couldn't tell if it was an adult looking back on her younger years or not. Enjoyed the grandmother character and Maine setting. I would definitely recommend it to teenage girls. ( )
  jenniferthomp75 | Jul 17, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375846751, Hardcover)

Brett McCarthy lives for soccer, vocabulary words, and her largerthan-life grandmother, Nonna. Unfortunately, Brett’s got a huge mouth she can’t seem to tame and opinions she can’t keep to herself. It’s thanks in part to both of those things (well, really, the evil Jeanne Anne) that Brett finds herself going from good student and BFF to Diane, to twicesuspended, friendless, and lunching with the principal every day. Indefinitely. So when Nonna starts going for lots of medical tests and no one will tell her why, Brett’s already turned-upside down world goes from bad to worse, and she’s not sure where she fits, who she is, or how to make right what she, and her big fat mouth, have made wrong. Maria Padian makes her literary debut with a laugh-out-loud coming-of-age novel about one smart-mouthed 14-year-old who’s learning the hard way that she is a work in progress.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:40 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Eighth-grader Brett McCarthy--once good student and best-friend-to-Diane, now suspended and friendless--faces school and family troubles as she grapples with her redefined life.

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