cover image Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials

Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials

Rosalind Wiseman, . . Putnam, $17.99 (282pp) ISBN 978-0-399-24796-5

Wiseman's (Queen Bees & Wannabees ) by-the-numbers YA debut introduces Charlie Healey, a spirited ninth grader who enters prestigious Harmony Falls High School, ready to leave behind the traumas and “frenemies” of middle school. But when a childhood friend, Will, as well as a girl she had a hand in humiliating, transfer to her school, the drama she was trying to escape comes flooding back into her life. Between her feisty and boy-crazy friend Sydney (“she was my friend and unconditional friendship included throwing yourself into potentially mind-blowingly stupid situations”), her crush on Will, and the lacrosse team's increasingly violent hazing traditions, Charlie has to restructure her priorities, analyze her values, and take a stand. Charlie possesses all the uncertainty and self-doubt of a typical high-school freshman, although some of the plot particulars and her first-person narrative, which is spliced with occasional IM conversations and newspaper articles, are sometimes more reminiscent of high school sitcoms than real life. Nonetheless Wiseman has created an honest story of the convoluted workings of teenage friendships and relationships. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)