cover image Obnoxious Jerks

Obnoxious Jerks

Stephen Manes. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-05488-0

Readers seeking a respite from ``problem'' novels need look no further than this lighthearted romp. This book sparkles with puckish exuberance, even though the central conflict that fuels the story is a minor one. Narrator Frank ``Back'' Wess is new at Ullman Griswold Memorial High School (known as ``UGH'') and doesn't fit in with any of the established cliques of jocks, nerds, druggies, heavy metal fans or just plain dopes. Enter the Obnoxious Jerks, who ask Back to join their non-club of just regular guys, whose sole official function is to perform ``jerk-outs'' that prick the balloon of societal pomposity. Their schoolmates either ignore or insult the Obnoxious Jerks, until seemingly shy Leslie asks Back if she can join. Back's in a quandarycan a girl join an all-boys club, even if it doesn't have any rules? Although Leslie proves she's Jerk material during her performance in the school's annual talent contest, her membership is still uncertain because Back's best friend Ippolito seems to have a vendetta against her. It's only after she comes up with skirts for the boys to wear in their biggest jerk-out ever (to protest a school rule banning shorts) that Leslie is unanimously voted in as a full Obnoxious Jerk. Allowing girls as members means the non-club will be forever changed, Back finds, but ``different'' doesn't mean ``worse.'' Ages 12-up. (August)