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September 12, 2013 Edition
Carlos Duarte knows he was born to make people beautiful and is looking forward to the day that he’s Carrlos, makeup artist to the stars. Right now, though, he’s 16 and hoping for a job at the makeup counter at Macy’s. He calls out favors from friends to create a portfolio of his work, bribes his big sister to be his live model at his interview, and braves the glory that is Valentino, and nails the job. Then he discovers how cutthroat the world of the makeup counter can be: his weeks are suddenly full of difficult egos, schedule changes, and snarky comments about his weight, his orientation, and his age. Navigating the rocky shoals towards his dream got more complicated, sure, but even in the face of possible ruin, Carlos remains undaunted and optimistic.
Told in turn by incarcerated middle schoolers Katie, Nate, Renata, and their social worker, Greta Shield, this is a story of bullies, retaliation, and many more than four secrets. When Chase starts bullying Renata, her friends are alarmed – Renata is tiny and fragile and special – she isn’t tough like Nate and Katie. The three come up with a plan to get Chase alone and try to talk some sense into him. But things go wrong, really wrong, and now it’s Chase’s word against theirs. If they can bring themselves to write the truth in the journals Ms. Shield makes them keep, she may be able to help them. Katie writes dutifully, but she keeps two journals to keep her secrets to herself. Nate writes, too, but cloaks the truth in heroic fantasy. And Renata? She won’t write a word, just draws strange, wordless stories in her unlined journal. Ms. Shields becomes a detective, reading between the lines, reading the story in the pictures, reading the meanings inside spoken words, and the secrets she learns change the whole story.
Written in the form of fifteen-year old Adrienne’s summer AP English project, this is the story of how four girls from very different backgrounds meet and connect (though briefly, one suspects) with each other, their families, and literature. Of the four, only mysterious Wallis, the youngest of the group, is there by choice. Average girl Adrienne injured her knee and wasn’t able to go canoeing with her best friend. Posh CeeCee ended up in the bookclub as further punishment for denting the car (the main cruelty is not being in Paris with her sister). And brainy Jill is there because that’s what girls with 4.0 GPAs do with their summers. Adrienne is an avid reader who loves the places books take her, even when she’s not totally sure she loves the stories she’s reading. She opens each chapter with witty definitions of literary terms and allows herself to see the connections between the plots she reads and the life she lives. Lovely book with an enigmatic ending.
It’s the day of the annual Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt, 24 hours of non-stop competition that will put Mary’s prom night fiasco behind her, show Jake Barbone that she should be the one going to Georgetown, and emblazon her name on the school’s collective memory. She and her friends Patrick, Dez, and Winter are going to be the best team ever, but Mary might be the only one of the four taking the hunt seriously. And what if she’s wrong and hasn’t been invisible all these years? In between the paper towels, snow globes, and Mary-on-the-half-shell, Mary finds that she does indeed have a reputation (and it’s not for problem-solving) and that her group of friends might not be as all-for-one that she hoped. Fast-paced and fun, this is a lively read with a hint of self-examination.