THE BREAKFAST CLUB meets middle school with a prank twist in this hilarious and heartwarming story about six very different seventh graders who are forced to band together after a vandalism incident.
When Theo’s photography project is mysteriously vandalized at school there are five suspected students who all say “it wasn’t me.”
Theo just wants to forget about the humiliating incident but his favorite teacher is determined to get to the bottom of it and has the six of them come into school over vacation to talk. She calls it “Justice Circle.” The six students—the Nerd, the Princess, the Jock, the Screw Up, the Weirdo, and the Nobody—think of it as detention. AKA their worst nightmare.
That is until they realize they might get along after all, despite their differences. But what is everyone hiding and will school ever be the same?
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Homophobic slur, Mild language
Booklist (October 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 3))
Grades 5-8. Having to go to school over break stinks, but circumstantial evidence surrounding vandalism brings six unhappy seventh-graders together for a justice circle facilitated by a favorite teacher. Like The Breakfast Club, each student carries a label by which they are automatically judged (the nerd, the princess, the jock, the weirdo, the screw-up), and this experimental gathering seeks to discover not only who destroyed Theo’s photographs but why. Despite a slow start, the story becomes as much a whodunit as an examination of judging others based on assumptions. Each day, the five possible perps fill out a questionnaire, offering readers a glimpse into the characters’ personalities and thin layers of clues. Meanwhile, the six learn about each other’s backgrounds, passions, and commonalities, leading to surprising results. Told primarily via Theo’s first-person narrative, readers join him as he discovers what happened and feel his ever-changing emotions about the events. Plenty of laughs and loads of interesting introspection help drive the story. Fans of Levy’s Family Fletcher books will love that Jax is one of the suspects.
Horn Book Magazine (November/December, 2018)
Having reluctantly agreed to exhibit his self-portraits in his school’s art gallery, seventh grader Theo is devastated when the photographs are defaced and destroyed. With trepidation he joins the five students suspected of committing the vandalism in a Justice Circle, hoping to understand how one of them could be so cruel. The suspects seem predictable types—a jock, an overachiever, a weirdo, a class clown (Jax Fletcher from Levy’s Family Fletcher books), and a stayer-below-the-radar—who are introduced in the novel’s opening pages through the first of the written assessments they are required to complete each day. As time goes on, they start to shed defensiveness, show vulnerability, and gain an appreciation for one another through their shared experience. As for Theo himself, through his introspective first-person viewpoint we see him dealing with hurt, anger, confusion, empathy, and compassion as the culprit is slowly revealed. Levy delves into sensitive topics that are both timely and of great importance to middle-school readers while also providing plenty of entertainment and humor—yoga-ball soccer, anyone?—with this winning school story. monica edinger
About the Author
Dana Alison Levy was raised by pirates but escaped at a young age and went on to earn a degree in aeronautics and puppetry. Actually, that’s not true—she just likes to make things up. That’s why she always wanted to write books. She was born and raised in New England and studied English literature before going to graduate school for business. While there is value in all learning, had she known she would end up writing for a living, she might not have struggled through all those statistics and finance classes. Dana was last seen romping with her family in Massachusetts.
Her website is danaalisonlevy.com
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