This over-the-top but entertaining British import follows 15-year-old Heidi, who has always had an active imagination. When everyone seems to be coupling off at the first party of the new school year, Heidi invents the perfect boy for her—Ed Hartley. But “imaginary boyfriend-construction is harder than it looks.” Heidi perpetuates Ed's existence by creating an online profile for him—he rides motorcycles, he writes poetry—and her friends think he's great, too. Day (Serafina67 *urgently requires life*) intersperses Heidi's first-person narrative with invented conversations between Heidi and Mycroft Christie, a TV detective, as well as e-mails between “Ed” and Heidi's friends, who have their own quirks. While it's implausible that Heidi's friends would divulge their problems to someone they've never met, Heidi is thus able to learn some of their deepest secrets. And when she begins receiving mysterious e-mails from someone claiming to be “a real boy,” she worries that the gig is up. The sender's identity is predictable, but readers should still be satisfied with the outcome. Ages 13-up. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
From School Library Journal:
"Heidi is a sassy, likable character who has a knack for assigning imaginative labels to people and situations that are dead-on .Supporting characters are full of emotion and contagious energy. . . a fun read sprinkled with a bit of teenage angst."
From the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books:
"This is a classic frothy relationship comedy, with a boarding-school setting that enhances the angst of the peer-group drama and a happy ending for Heidi that will leave readers as pleased as she is."
Children's Literature - Cynthia Levinson
Heidi Ryder's world and friendships are vividly eccentric yet believably realistic and contemporary. At the same time, the issues with which she dealsno boyfriend and a female friend who is becoming estrangedare universally adolescent. Start with the fact that her mother (aka the Mothership) works for a series of British boarding schools where her father (aka Dad Man) acts as custodian. As a result, Heidi changes schools frequently, often in mid-year, and must not only befriend but also live with a revolving continuum of new names, relationships, and local styles. At the alternative school Finch, her cast of characters includes Dai and his boyfriend Peroxide Eric; the elusive Fili and her Russian model roommate, Yuliya; and several boys. Heidi develops relationships with them but not completely, especially after they find love interests. To cope, Heidi retreats to her job at a coffeehouse whose owner seems to be the only sane adult in her life; to a television serial about the detective Mycroft Christie, with whom she imagines conversations; and to an imaginary boyfriend, whom she names Ed, based on a gingerbread cookie. To convince the others of Ed's reality, she sends herself U-chat messages from him. When the girl and boy friends begin to switch partners, the scene becomes ever more complicated, and Heidi decides to break up with the fictional Ed, whose non-existence Fili has already deduced. The language and format of the book are hip, the characters are intriguing, and the resolution is a lesson about honesty and friendship. Reviewer: Cynthia Levinson
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Heidi's parents (affectionately called Mothership and Dad Man) have moved from job to job for years, never allowing Heidi to stay at any school long enough to establish friendships, find the girl's bathroom, or get past what she calls the "Never-ending Era of Pathetic Noobishness." But at Finch, an alternative boarding school, Heidi has made great friends and she's coming back for her second year. Trouble, however, begins at the first dorm party when Heidi is believed to have turned down the "tongue services" of a hot guy, and her friends mistakenly assume she is seeing someone. Not sure how to correct the misconception, Heidi creates an imaginary boyfriend, Ed, using a gingerbread-boy cookie as her inspiration. As imaginary Ed becomes popular with her friends through online chat, a real boy shows interest in her. Heidi is a sassy, likable character who has a knack for assigning imaginative labels to people and situations that are dead-on, although her ongoing fascination and imaginary dialogue with a British TV detective can be distracting. Supporting characters are full of emotion and contagious energy. Readers may figure out who her secret admirer is long before Heidi does, but it's still a fun read sprinkled with a bit of teenage angst.—Kelley Siegrist, Farmington Community Library, MI
Although Heidi is not a subject of ridicule at her British reform school, which she attends because her parents work there, she's not Miss Popularity, either. In imitation of her favorite TV detective, Heidi starts wearing a long beige raincoat, which turns out to be her key to social success. When asked about the coat's origins, she replies that it belongs to her boyfriend, Ed. Ed is so cool and wise that Heidi's friends correspond with him by e-mail. Only Heidi knows that Ed is completely made up. Then...Heidi's tangled web is invaded by someone who goes by the online handle "arealboy" and claims to know that Ed isn't real. The story, which includes a student production of Twelfth Night, has some Shakespearean parallels, with role-playing, mistaken identities, breakups and makeups. The supporting characters, however, are too bland to support the interesting plot, and Heidi has a fondness for Scrabble that makes her inner dialogue often obnoxious. Romance readers should figure out who "arealboy" is early on, leaving little mystery to add dimension to the story. (Fiction. 13 & up)