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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Girl to the Core* by Stacey Goldblatt- young adult book review
Girl to the Core
by Stacey Goldblatt
Grades 9+ 304 pages Delacorte July 2009 Hardcover    

Stacy Goldblatt, author of Stray, again displays her unique talent for weaving together authentic characters and serious teenage issues: friendship and dating in high school. Girl to the Core portrays the life of fifteen-year-old Molly O’Keefe, who is heartbroken after she catches her boyfriend cheating on her.

The story begins in Ms. Pinkwater’s ceramics class at Hilldale High School. Trevor Shultz pummels clay while Molly watches his dimples and wishes she would have stuck to her plan to take environmental science instead of art. Even though she enjoys being with Trevor, he is a year older than she is and ready to move forward a little faster in their relationship. When Molly tries to slow things down a bit, Trevor turns to Felicia, his previous girlfriend.

Molly has a close relationship with her father, her grandfather and three uncles - musicians who play at the Banshee pub owned by Molly’s Aunt Tip - but it‘s not the same as having a mom. For Molly, comfort lies in playing her accordion “Buttons” and in spending time with her nine-year old neighbor Claire, who convinces her to join the Girl Corps club. Although the girls are half her age, Molly finds the club gives her a sense of self-confidence and personal identity.

Like loyal guard dogs, the men in the family insist on meeting Molly’s boyfriend; her father refuses to take no for an answer. Molly fears the meeting will totally dissolve their already unsteady relationship, and Trevor isn’t keen on the idea, either. It all seems to impinge on Molly’s freedom to date whomever she likes, and to be more than a bit old-fashioned. Trevor doesn’t want a lecture from a bunch of over-protective uncles.

Meanwhile Vanessa, Molly’s outgoing best friend, urges her to be more of a risk-taker and talks her into going to the Poseidon, a bar for those twenty-one and over. A little alternative rock band called Razor Hurley is playing, and Karl, the drummer, has invited them for a sneak peek backstage. Although she’d rather stay home with a box of Kleenex and mourn the loss of her relationship with Trevor, Molly reluctantly agrees to go. Trouble soon follows.

Text messages from Trevor leave Molly questioning whether or not she should forgive him, realizing that she feels like an outcast on a desert island and afraid that this may be her only chance at love. She’s had feelings for Trevor for seven years and isn’t easy to ignore him or the beautiful words he wrote about her ceramics project on the feedback sheet. He’s invited her to Zach’s Halloween party, and she’s not sure she has the strength not to accept the invitation.

As Stacy Goldblatt takes readers through Girl to the Core’s plot twists and turns, she playfully combines turbulent emotions with academic and social problems straight from the reality of life in high school. Lively prose and a cast of fully relatable characters give this novel everything required to ensure a light-hearted and appealing read.

Girl to the Core explores just how far teens are willing to go to answer the question Molly constantly asks herself: “What kind of teen am I?” The result is an entertaining look into the life of one girl who learns to think of herself in new and different ways.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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