Perceptive and sympathetic, Shreve's savvy novel focuses on a seventh- grader suffering the first throes of adolescent angst. Amanda Bates, known to Shreve's readers as series hero's Joshua T. Bates's brilliant, popular older sister, has entered junior high, and finds that her good-girl identity fits her as badly as her suddenly too-tight jeans. When her father points out that certain behavior is ""not like you,"" she snaps, ""How do you know what's like me and what isn't? I'm a different person than I used to be."" At school, Amanda is fascinated with an edgy fringe group called the Club and its leader, Fern (formerly Barbara). As Amanda flirts with a new persona by dyeing her hair, cutting class and considering renaming herself Cheetah, Shreve gradually introduces clues for Fern's sudden interest in Amanda and for Fern's manipulations. Ironically, it's the supposed bad-boy type, handsome Slade Spring, who helps Amanda see her parents and the Club clearly. Fans of Joshua T. Bates will be pleased that he remains a strong character and a voice of reason throughout Amanda's trials. Even if the resolution comes a shade easily, with Slade and Amanda agreeing to be best friends, the dialogue throughout is pitch-perfect--readers will recognize their feelings and problems on every page. Ages 9-12. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000 Release date: 03/01/2000 Genre: Children's
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