Reel Life Starring Us by Lisa Greenwald, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Reel Life Starring Us

Reel Life Starring Us

4.1 28
by Lisa Greenwald

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Rockwood Hills Junior High is known for the close-knit cliques that rule the school. When arty new girl Dina gets the opportunity to do a video project with queen bee Chelsea, she thinks this is her ticket to a great new social life. But Chelsea has bigger problems than Dina can imagine: her father has lost his job, and her family is teetering on the brink.


Rockwood Hills Junior High is known for the close-knit cliques that rule the school. When arty new girl Dina gets the opportunity to do a video project with queen bee Chelsea, she thinks this is her ticket to a great new social life. But Chelsea has bigger problems than Dina can imagine: her father has lost his job, and her family is teetering on the brink. Without knowing it, Dina might just get caught in Chelsea’s free fall.

Filled with honest truths about status and self-confidence, as well as the bubbly, infectious voice Lisa Greenwald mastered in her breakout, My Life in Pink & Green, this book is sure to charm tween readers everywhere.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Riley Carter
Dina's first day as the new girl in eighth grade coincides with Chelsea's first day back from having mono. The two girls have nothing in common: Dina comes from a very small, private school in rural Massachusetts and Chelsea comes from one of the wealthiest families in the Long Island town. When their social studies teacher pairs them on a video project for the Rockwood Hills Middle School fiftieth anniversary, Dina is optimistic, figuring working with the most popular girl in the school will help her make friends. Chelsea, however, is less than happy to be working with Dina, not only because Dina is new and different but also because Chelsea has a secret she cannot afford to let anyone know. Still, Dina's energy and adventurous spirit are infectious, especially when she hatches a plan to get the two of them in to interview the most famous Rockwood Hills graduate, television star Sasha Preston. The chapters alternate between Dina's and Chelsea's first-person perspectives, with the first few chapters disjointed as information is gradually unfolded. A spiraling series of engaging events follow, gradually building to the fiftieth anniversary gala. Dina in particular is a delightful character, with a strong sense of self and confidence, even as she navigates the potential pitfalls of social status and public school culture. Middle grade tween readers who enjoy friendship fiction will appreciate this story, learning that "sometimes in order to really see things, you just have to look through a different lens."—Kim Carter. Dina, a new girl at Rockwood Hills Middle School, gets paired up with the most popular girl in school, Chelsea, to work on a video together. They get into mischief, get new boyfriends, and try to become friends. But when Dina finds out about Chelsea's dad, things change. At first this reviewer did not like the story because it was very boring and hard to follow. Then it got better. People who like hilarious action and suspense will like this book because it will make every person who reads it happy. 4Q, 4P. Reviewer: Riley Carter, Teen Reviewer
Children's Literature - Justina Engebretson
Meet Dina, the new girl at Rockwood Hills Middle School. At her old school, Dina was popular and everyone accepted everyone. At Rockwood Hills, Dina is the weird girl who walks around with a video camera and who is always getting chipped. Meet Chelsea, another student at Rockwood Hills. Chelsea has gone to Rockwood Hills since kindergarten, and Chelsea is the girl that every girl at Rockwood Hills wants to be. From the start, Dina and Chelsea are thrown together to work on a video project for the school's fiftieth anniversary. Dina is thrilled hoping she will make a new friend, and Chelsea is everything but thrilled wishing she could have been assigned to work with her best friends rather than this strange girl. What begins as a series of rather unfortunate events in the lives of both girls may in the end bring good to everyone at Rockwood Hills Middle School. This young adult book is written from the alternating perspective of the two main characters, Dina and Chelsea, which is very clever. Such a technique allows the reader to experience each character on a more personal level. The author does an excellent job of creating characters that are neither completely bad nor either completely good. Preteen and teen girls will enjoy this book for sure. Reviewer: Justina Engebretson
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—When eighth-grader Dina arrives at her new middle school on Long Island, she is ready to be popular, just as she was at her old school. The kids at Rockwood Hills find her very uncool, though, and fill her backpack with potato chips whenever she isn't looking. Dina figures that if she gets popular Chelsea to befriend her, life will be perfect. When a teacher pairs Chelsea with Dina to create a video project for the school's 50th-anniversary gala, Dina is sure she's hit the jackpot. Sadly, Chelsea's life is no longer as perfect as everyone else thinks as her banker dad has been fired from his job, and the project makes things go from bad to worse for her. Alternating chapters from each girl's point of view reveal their mirrored struggles. The school project is the perfect backdrop against which to explore perceptions about friendship, popularity, responsibility, and morality in this heartwarming novel. An engaging and interesting read.—Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix Public Library, AZ
Kirkus Reviews

For eighth-grader Dina, being the new girl at school isa disaster.

Bewildered by her transition from popular girl to social outcast, Dina retreats behind her video camera. She hopes that the filter of the lens will helpher decode life at her trendy new middle school. A school project with reigning "it girl" Chelsea seems to be a perfect chance for Dina to improve her social status. Meanwhile, Chelsea desperately harbors a secret that compels her to maintain the status quo among her exclusive peers even as she begins to question their occasionally cruel behavior. Writing in the alternating voices of Chelsea and Dina, Greenwald explores the perks and pitfalls of popularity, demonstrating how those on both sides of the popularity divide can be victims of people's misperceptions. While Dina's composure seems precocious at times, her practical perspective combined with her wry humor and Chelsea's increasingly astute reflections makes this very accessible to pre-and early teen readers. In the process of working together, however reluctantly, Chelsea and Dina gain insight about each other and themselves that readers will benefit from.

This funny, nuanced tale offers keen observations on middle-school life. (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

Amulet Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Lisa Greenwald is the author of Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes and My Life in Pink & Green, which earned a starred review from Kirkus. She works in the library at the Birch Wathen Lenox School in Manhattan and is a graduate of the New School’s MFA program in writing for children. She lives in Brooklyn. Visit her online at

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