cover image So Not the Drama

So Not the Drama

Paula Chase, . . Kensington/Dafina, $9.95 (390pp) ISBN 978-0-7582-1859-9

Popularity-obsessed Mina, who narrates this first title in the Del Rio Bay Clique series, starts freshman year at Del Rio Bay High, a school full of cliques, and dreams of getting in with "the Uppers." But when her sociology teacher asks the class to "make a conscious choice either to embrace [prejudice] or eliminate it from your life," Mina begins to figure out what really matters to her. In a thick book with many characters and interweaving plots, the heart of the story revolves around Mina's sociology work group, which includes a girl from the projects, a rich girl and a mean popular girl (Jessica, who has special venom for Mina). They spend nights at each other's houses, learning to "respect our differences," and Mina gets engrossed with her group. She even fights with Lizzie, her best friend and the only white girl in her clique, after Lizzie makes comments about the boyfriend of one of Mina's group members. Meanwhile, Mina and Lizzie's friends JZ and Michael feud, too: jock JZ fears rumors will spread about Michael's sexuality when he starts designing costumes for the school play. Readers will like the genuine dialogue ("I think it's cool that y'all have never let color interfere with your friendship," Michael tells Mina. "So just squash this thing and make up"), but may find some characters, such as icy Jessica, a bit overblown. Heavy plotting makes for slow-going at times, but there is plenty here for readers to ponder about race, class and popularity (and lots of material for the next book). Ages 12-up. (Mar.)