Nobody Was Here: 7th grade in the Life of Me, Penelope

Nobody Was Here: 7th grade in the Life of Me, Penelope

by Alison Pollet
     
 

It's 1981, and nothing is going right in Penelope's life. She has just started seventh grade at Elston Prep, and she and her best friend Stacey aren't getting along. Stacy is all caught up in who's wearing what to whose Bar Mitzvah, and has even become friends with Annabella and Pia, two of the biggest snobs at Elston! At home, things are no better: there's a new… See more details below

  • Checkmark Kids' Club Eligible  Shop Now

Overview

It's 1981, and nothing is going right in Penelope's life. She has just started seventh grade at Elston Prep, and she and her best friend Stacey aren't getting along. Stacy is all caught up in who's wearing what to whose Bar Mitzvah, and has even become friends with Annabella and Pia, two of the biggest snobs at Elston! At home, things are no better: there's a new mother's helper to contend with, and Penelope's little brother Nathaniel just won't leave her alone. And when her parents are at home--which is rare--all they do is fight.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1981 at an elite New York City private school, Pollet's (When I Was a Girl) first novel trenchantly evokes middle school social life in all its hazards and perplexities. Penelope Schwartzbaum has just entered seventh grade at Elston Prep, where her homeroom teacher welcomes everyone by saying, "This year we're going to try and break you." Penelope already imagines herself breaking, "snapping in half like one of the Number 2 pencils in the front pouch of her backpack." She's growing away from her socially savvy best friend, Stacy, but knows that a best friend is crucial to survival. And her parents are too busy advancing their careers (and going out-just what is Penelope's mother up to with that handsome younger client?) to pay much attention. Confusion in algebra pales next to Penelope's dazed response to the social dynamics. When the most powerful girl in class demands that Penelope and Stacy sign "The Pledge" to snub new kids, Penelope adds her name in "scratchy, minuscule letters" ("If it wasn't really her signature, it wasn't really her, right?"). Graffiti erupts around school, denouncing the girls behind The Pledge; Pollet expertly lays out the clues and leaves it to readers to deduce that Penelope is the author. Pollet gets all the details right, from how a clique attacks a victim to the trappings of a fancy bat mitzvah, and then delves beneath the surface to explore the pressures on the protagonists and even their parents, delivering a full-bodied and compassionate work. Ages 10-13. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Penelope Schwartzbaum, seventh grader and self-proclaimed misfit finds this to be her coming of age year, and it comes none too smoothly! To begin with, her report card from sixth grade (blatantly prominent for all to see) indicates her tendency to drift off. Now she has fallen asleep on the bus ride for her very first day of middle school. Even her best friend Stacy does not seem to "match" any more. Penelope's first eleven years were so much friendlier. Why was life so hard now? Current seventh grade readers may see snippets of themselves in this work and realize that being a pre-teen is difficult at times and that's all right. Maybe they are supposed to feel that way. Penelope eventually comes to terms with herself, her family and her friends—old and new. She and her friends are well defined and engage in typical girl-y behavior. Other characters in this story are not as clearly presented, leaving us to wonder just who those people are. The main characters stand apart, but Pollet names even the most obscure members in her work, which can get cumbersome remembering who is who. In general, a very good read for the junior high set and for that all-girl book discussion group. 2004, Orchard Books/Scholastic, Ages 9 to 12.
—Elizabeth Young
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-It's 1981, and Penelope Schwartzbaum is starting seventh grade at an elite New York prep school. She finds herself thinking "bad thoughts"-thoughts that include a sense that she no longer fits together with her best friend, and suspicions that her mother's involvement with her latest client might be the kind of involvement that leads to divorce. School is a nightmare of never knowing what to do or how to think; the in-crowd has too many rules, from what to wear to who to talk to, and Penelope feels so lost that she is rapidly becoming a nobody. However, a new friendship with oddball but entirely genuine Cass provides a welcome distraction and allows Penelope to regain her sense of self and start becoming somebody. The prose is utilitarian and often reminiscent of the gossipy but omniscient narrative of Cecily von Ziegesar's "Gossip Girl" series or Lisi Harrison's The Clique (2004, both Little, Brown), including brand names scattered across the pages. Today's 12-year-olds might not understand why white Tretorns are so important; on the other hand, the time period might provide some insight into the world their mothers occupied. Overall, this is a satisfying story about early adolescence that doesn't break any new ground, but that won't disappoint readers.-Karyn N. Silverman, LREI-Elizabeth Irwin High School, New York City Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In an Upper East Side private school, a status-conscious, label-conscious, preppy 1981, Penelope Rosenberg is confronting the ambiguities of 12 going on 13. She's arrived in the memorable territory of cliques, mean girls, and growing up, when simple friendships can be transformed by some girls into weapons-or liabilities. As her elementary-school classmates from Elston rush ahead into seventh grade, Penelope finds herself trailing the pack. One bullying girl dictates to the rest that kids new to Elston be spurned, and Penelope is startled to discover that her feelings oppose this, and that she's ambivalent about her long-time "best" friendship. She develops a tenuous friendship outside of school with a somewhat eccentric, individualistic classmate. Pollet's light-hearted rendering of surface concerns (is it okay to buy earrings that match the alpha girl's?) gives way to deeper currents in which Penelope finds herself trying to stay afloat. One classmate is made a scapegoat and literally marked by a mob of girls wielding felt-tip pens; Penelope suspects that her mother's new "friendship" is really an affair; she realizes that deciding to part from the dictating mob will be painful. Light, but sturdy middle-school fare. (Fiction. 10-13)

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780439583947
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
05/18/2004
Series:
Nobody Was Here
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.76(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.82(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >