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VOYASelf-help books can be creepy, but the copy of Happy Kid! A Young Person's Guide to Satisfying Relationships and a Happy and Meaning-Filled Life that Kyle owns is positively haunting. Kyle, a loner with a reputation as a troublemaker, is bribed by his mother to read the book. As he opens random chapters, he notices that the messages are oddly relevant to what is going on in his life. In his enriched English class, his teacher gives the class an essay assignment and when the essay question turns up verbatim on a statewide standardized test, Kyle and his Happy Kid advice have to make a decision: Tell the principal about the suspected cheating and jeopardize the standardized test scores of every "A-Kid" in school, or let it go and not further his status as social outcast. Despite the fact that Kyle is a likeable, relatable character, the many subplots in this book slow it down and make it feel preachy at the end. In addition to the cheating scandal and the clairvoyant book, Kyle is dealing with a crush on a girl in his English class, repairing his relationship with the school's tech-ed teacher, learning tae kwon do, and surviving his well-meaning if overbearing mother. Although this life multitasking is not unrealistic, it takes away from the pacing of the book. The dialogue, especially at the end, is often stilted and the peripheral characters are stereotypes. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P M J (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2006, Putnam Juvenile, 227p., Ages 11 to 15.
—Carlisle Kraft Webber