cover image Fly on the Wall

Fly on the Wall

E. Lockhart, . . Delacorte, $17.99 (182pp) ISBN 978-0-385-73281-9

Narrator Gretchen Yee will grab readers from the first page with her snappy commentary. Even at her Manhattan arts high school, she's a misfit. But the comic-book obsessed artist gets an unexpected chance to live as an alter ego when, for a week, she turns into a literal fly on the wall, trapped inside the boys' locker room. Lockhart (The Boyfriend List ) sets up a clever parallel by making Gretchen's class read The Metamorphosis , and—like Kafka's protagonist—it is unclear what caused Gretchen's change (she suspects a philosophical old man she met on the subway, or a strange soda she drank on the way to school, among other things). Her sense of humor offsets her generally negative outlook, and the pace picks up during her time as a fly. As Gretchen buzzes around hundreds of naked bodies, she witnesses a lot of locker room drama, and worries about the morality of spying even as she categorizes their bums or describes an uncircumcised penis. She also realizes how insecure boys can be (she even learns that confidence is not always what makes someone sexy—sometimes, as in the case of her crush—its just the opposite). The conclusion wraps a bit neatly (and without much introspection), but readers will find enough thoughtful material here to keep buzzing through the pages. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)