PSLA Top Forty
"Butcher offers an insightful look into the ethics and morals of high school students...The short book really lends itself to a good discussion."
"Well suited to its intended audience…With its succinct text, short chapters, and emphasis on contemporary teen issues, Cheat should be popular with reluctant young adult readers….Recommended."
Library Media Connection
"A realistic portrayal of high school students' attitudes towards cheating…This is a well written narrative that will challenge readers to make a decision about what's right and what's wrong. Recommended."
Puget Sound Council for Reviewing Children's Media
"It was easy to get caught up in this book—enough suspense to keep the story moving briskly along. A good hi-low read for teens."
Children's Literature - Michele C. Hughes
A modern day Nancy Drew and Bob Woodward rolled into one, Laurel Quinn is a tenacious investigative journalist trapped inside a school newspaper reporter. Tired of writing the same old boring stories, she decides to take her craft to the next level. Her peers at first congratulate her on an interesting story well told, but it isn't long before she starts making people uncomfortable with her expose on cheating. Her tell-all article implicates her classmates and raises awareness of the tactics so that teachers know what to watch for. Suddenly Laurel's classmates aren't so thrilled with her journalistic abilities. Yet when a more significant cheating story captures her attention, she finds she has an appetite for getting to the bottom of an issue, no matter what the social cost. When the trail leads close to home, Laurel must weigh what she knows to be right against what will happen when the truth comes out. Told from Laurel's first person perspective, this book is a straightforward mystery with an intriguing premise. The characters are one-dimensional and predictable, and the ending is overly moralistic. Readers are privy to Laurel's every thought and musing about the cheating scandals, including her cliches, such as "seeing him there almost gave me a heart attack!" Yet there is something appealing about the formula, as Nancy Drew fans can attest, and mystery-lovers will enjoy how the tale unfolds. Reviewer: Michele C. Hughes
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—While pondering her next big story for the high school newspaper, Laurel Quinn stumbles upon a cheating scam in her math class. Shocked by the idea of her fellow students engaged in such a dishonest enterprise, she immediately writes an exposé. Instead of gaining her recognition, she is viewed by her classmates as a traitor and her article results in increased scrutiny by the teachers. Instead of backing away from the issue, she follows an anonymous tip and finds out that the cheating is widespread. Laurel's quest for the truth alienates her star athlete brother and his friends, and she ultimately discovers that the scandal hits closer to home than she realized. Despite some minor, unrealistic plot points, including an instance where an administrator simply hands Laurel class lists and students' grades, Butcher's portrayal of high school cheating is believable, with actual consequences. Teens may initially struggle to empathize with the self-righteous protagonist, but the pacing will keep reluctant readers hooked until the very end. Michael Laser's ZCheater (Dutton, 2007) and J.M. Steele's The Taker (Hyperion, 2006) cover similar ground with a little more depth.—Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA
Laurel is a fledgling reporter who has inadvertently hit front-page gold with a hot scoop. Determined to keep her place in the journalistic limelight, she goes in search of her next big story. When she discovers some classmates cheating, she knows she's found her lead. However, once she begins to investigate cheating in her school, she finds out that it is more rampant--and closer to home--than she ever would have imagined. Now caught in a quandary, Laurel finds there are no easy answers and needs to decide what is really important to her. Short, quick chapters are propelled by frenetic action. Despite its rapid pace, this hi-lo problem novel leaves holes in its character development. For example, it's never clear how old Laurel is or what grade she is in; small details like this would help readers relate to her. True to life, this book does not offer a tidy, Pollyanna-ish conclusion; Laurel comes to learn from this experience a difficult lesson at a great expense. A speedy read, though light in construction. (Fiction. 10 & up)
Read an Excerpt
"Nobody likes a snitch. Unless you're looking to become a total outcast, let it go."