cover image The Classy Crooks Club

The Classy Crooks Club

Alison Cherry. S&S/Aladdin, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4814-4637-2

With her parents away, athletic, edgy Annemarie (or AJ, as she prefers) is doomed to a month of etiquette lessons and tea time with her rich and seemingly uncaring Grandma Jo, a woman who’s “not big on joy” and dismisses 12-year-old AJ’s passion for soccer as unladylike. AJ’s torture compounds each day until she discovers that her grandmother’s bridge club is actually a small-time heist club—and its members need her help. While this gives AJ the chance to earn respect from her grandmother, the more AJ gets involved with the ladies’ questionable pastime, the more their demands grow, as do her concerns about their activities. The story gets a bit muddled as Cherry (Red) toggles between AJ’s amateur thievery and her increasingly complicated adolescent social world, with the former storyline taking an occasional backseat to the less entertaining friendship struggles. A shocking and somewhat disturbing final twist helps the characters learn some surprising lessons about themselves, allowing AJ, and readers, to reconsider what the true “definition of a respectable lady” might be. Ages 8–12. Agent: Holly Root, Waxman Leavell Literary Agency. (Mar.)