In the Role of Brie Hutchens...
Nicole Melleby. Algonquin, $16.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-61620-907-0
One of the few things 13-year-old Brie and her mother have in common is their love of soap operas, and the eighth grader can’t wait to use her extensive knowledge of their dramatics when she auditions for her New Jersey school’s play. But when her mom walks in just after she stumbles upon Playboy photos of her favorite female actor online, Brie blurts a lie to distract her: Brie will crown Mary during her Catholic school’s annual celebratory mass. In reality, that honor is usually reserved for top students such as Kennedy Bishop, a classmate on whom Brie develops a crush. Mediocre student Brie redoubles her scholarly efforts, hoping to crown Mary and prove that she’s responsible enough to try out for a performing arts high school. Brie also worries about her disassociation from her faith, which is linked in her mind to her awakening sexuality and the growing distance she feels between herself and her mother. Melleby (Hurricane Season) paints Brie as a recognizable teen: authentic in her self-centeredness and sympathetic in her attempts to embrace her identity. Brie’s anxiety over her faith, as well as how to come out to her loved ones, is wrenching and genuine in this accomplished, leisurely paced read. Ages 10–up. [em]Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Apr.) [/em]
Reviewed on: 03/12/2020