cover image I Am the Wallpaper

I Am the Wallpaper

Mark Peter Hughes, . . Delacorte, $15.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-385-90265-6

Hughes's energetic first novel recounts the onslaught of disasters occurring to Floey Packer the summer after her seventh grade year. Tired of feeling like "wallpaper, there but barely noticed," when her vivacious sister, soon-to-be-married Lillian is around, the 13-year-old decides to change herself into a "bold, remarkable new Floey. But alas, adapting a brassier look (that includes a black fedora and purple hair) and acting more aggressively doesn't lead to popularity. In fact Floey manages to alienate herself from several people including Calvin, the cute 15-year-old she meets at her sister's wedding, and her best friend, Azra. Ironically enough, what does gain Floey's notice is a Web site devised by her scheming cousins that features a risqué photograph of her as well as segments of her very private diary. When Floey starts getting stares from strangers who have seen the site, it doesn't take long for her to begin wondering if it might be preferable to be invisible after all. Hughes offers a well-orchestrated plot, hilarious scenarios, snappy dialogue and a vulnerable, believable heroine. However, some may question the author's prudence in illustrating how easily and effectively revenge can be carried out through the Internet. Also, it is unclear what—if any—lessons Floey has learned from her experiences. Ages 10-up. (May)