The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter

Kristen Tracy, Editor
Kristen Tracy, Delacorte, $15.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-73688-6
Reviewed on: 11/29/2010
Release date: 01/01/2011
Middle school trauma is the subject of this slice-of-life novel featuring irrepressible Bessica, who's named after Bessica Raiche, "the first American woman to intentionally pilot a solo flight." Bessica is eager to start sixth grade with her best friend Sylvie, but Sylvie's mother, believing Bessica is a "dangerous influence," enrolls her daughter in a different school. As Bessica learns of her friend's abandonment, she also finds out that her beloved grandmother is leaving on a six-week road trip. A lonely Bessica bravely endures her predictably disastrous first days at her new school, where she has run-ins with "psycho-bullies," forgets her locker combination, is accused of breaking a vending machine, and misses opportunities to secure new friendships. While humorous episodes lighten the mood, the heroine's misery drags on too long, and her first-person narrative (peppered with such expressions as "Oh my heck") feels strained at times. Nonetheless, Tracy (Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus) offers a positive and comforting message about learning to make adjustments, ending the book on a happy note, with Bessica finding her niche as school mascot. Ages 10–up. (Jan.)