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The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter

( 17 )

Overview

After an unfortunate incident at the hair salon, Bessica is not allowed to see her best friend, Sylvie. That means she's going to start middle school a-l-o-n-e. Bessica feels like such a loser. She wants friends. She's just not sure how to make them.
It doesn't help that her beloved grandma is off on some crazy road trip and has zero time to listen to Bessica. Or that Bessica has a ton of homework. Or that gorgeous Noll Beck thinks she's just a kid. Or that there are some ...

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The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter

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Overview

After an unfortunate incident at the hair salon, Bessica is not allowed to see her best friend, Sylvie. That means she's going to start middle school a-l-o-n-e. Bessica feels like such a loser. She wants friends. She's just not sure how to make them.
It doesn't help that her beloved grandma is off on some crazy road trip and has zero time to listen to Bessica. Or that Bessica has a ton of homework. Or that gorgeous Noll Beck thinks she's just a kid. Or that there are some serious psycho-bullies in her classes. Bessica doesn't care about being popular. She just wants to survive—and look cute. Is that too much to ask when you're eleven?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Middle school trauma is the subject of this slice-of-life novel featuring irrepressible Bessica, who's named after Bessica Raiche, "the first American woman to intentionally pilot a solo flight." Bessica is eager to start sixth grade with her best friend Sylvie, but Sylvie's mother, believing Bessica is a "dangerous influence," enrolls her daughter in a different school. As Bessica learns of her friend's abandonment, she also finds out that her beloved grandmother is leaving on a six-week road trip. A lonely Bessica bravely endures her predictably disastrous first days at her new school, where she has run-ins with "psycho-bullies," forgets her locker combination, is accused of breaking a vending machine, and misses opportunities to secure new friendships. While humorous episodes lighten the mood, the heroine's misery drags on too long, and her first-person narrative (peppered with such expressions as "Oh my heck") feels strained at times. Nonetheless, Tracy (Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus) offers a positive and comforting message about learning to make adjustments, ending the book on a happy note, with Bessica finding her niche as school mascot. Ages 10–up. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February 2011:
"Bessica's voice is funny, goofy, anxious, and absolutely emotionally authentic...Readers negotiating their own middle-school minefields or soaking up all the preparatory information they can find will breathlessly follow Bessica's escapades."
VOYA - Laura Lehner-Ennis
Bessica Lefter's two best friends have abandoned her just weeks before starting middle school—her grandmother takes off on an RV adventure with her Internet boyfriend, Willy, and Sylvie's mother transfers her to a different school after determining that Bessica is a dangerous influence. Bessica is devastated but is determined to become a whole new woman. With humor and panache, she pummels her way through her first weeks of middle school, making misstep after misstep. Right off the bat, she gets on the bad side of the resident bullies, lands in the principal's office with a goth girl who might end up being her only friend, and hacks into her grandmother's computer in a misguided attempt to find her a better boyfriend who won't steal her away from Bessica. Trying out for team mascot against one of the most popular girls in school is a big risk that could make or break her socially, but Bessica is not someone who avoids challenge. Though it starts off on a sad note—losing Sylvie and Grandma at the same time seems particularly unjust—Bessica's tale rebounds into a fun and realistic story of a girl reinventing herself. She tries so hard that the reader cannot help but cheer her on—her voice is funny and true and very sympathetic. Many a middle school girl will find a piece of herself in Bessica Lefter. Reviewer: Laura Lehner-Ennis
Kirkus Reviews

Bessica Lefter looked forward to middle school until a rash decision to get matching pixie haircuts led to her having to negotiate the new school entirely on her own, without her longtime best friend Sylvie. Well-meaning adults and former students give her conflicting advice. On her own she finds it hard to avoid the psycho-bullies and make new friends. Eating cookies from the vending machine in "loner town" had not been her plan. On top of that, her grandmother and best ally has gone off on a trip in her new friend Willy's motor home. One subplot revolves around Bessica's use of an online-dating service to find her grandmother a more suitable friend. Another involves Bessica's efforts to join the cheerleading squad, although she doesn't like to be upside down. The first-person narration reveals the inconsistencies of preteendom, the magnified problems and rapid emotional swings. Both family and school are believable, but, appropriately, this is all about Bessica, a character whose newfound bear persona schoolmates and readers alike can applaud.(Fiction. 9-13)

School Library Journal
Gr 5–6—Poor Bessica doesn't think things can get any worse. On the same day, she learns that her best friend, Sylvie, is going to a different school and that her grandma is going on a six-week trip, leaving her to navigate her upcoming entry into middle school on her own. How will she know how to avoid the dweebs, the psycho-bullies, and the alts? How will she know which clubs to join and which table to sit at in the lunchroom? And will she ever get her locker open? Bessica takes everything very seriously, but many of the situations in which she finds herself are humorous. She is an "everytween" with the typical myopia of the age, and as such many readers will relate to her struggle to find a place to belong and applaud her hard-won position in the middle-school hierarchy.—Laurie Slagenwhite Walters, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385736886
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 1/11/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 954,236
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 570L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Kristen Tracy

Kristen Tracy grew up in a small town in Idaho, where she learned a lot about bears. Sadly, she was not clever enough to reinvent herself in middle school. Also, technically, Kristen Tracy never went to middle school. She attended North Bonneville Junior High, where she took classes in industrial exploration (which involved lots of saws), Idaho history, public speaking, and keyboarding. Her least favorite class was PE, in which she was forced to run, tumble, hurdle, play shuffleboard, and perform the flexed-arm hang.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

I stared into the dark, cavernous hole with my best friend, Sylvie. I didn't know what had made the hole or how far down it went or if its bottom contained dangerous sludge. To be honest, neither Sylvie nor I cared that much about holes. The less we knew about this one, the better.

"I'm not sure," Sylvie said.

This was the sort of thing Sylvie Potaski always said. She wasn't the kind of person who would go down in history for leading a revolution where people burned flags or bras. She was the kind of person who would check with other people (several times) about what they thought about burning flags or bras. Some people might consider this a shortcoming. But I didn't mind it. Or that she repeatedly licked her fingers after she peeled an orange. Sylvie Potaski was my best friend.

Sylvie stopped looking into the hole and started looking at our diary again. Every page was full. This wasn't because of me. It was Sylvie. She was detail-oriented. She couldn't just write in the diary that she saw a tree. She'd tell you how green the leaves were and how brown the bark was and how much shade the tree gave and if there happened to be a bird in it. I'd read every word she wrote in our diary. And she'd read every word I wrote. Because our diary was collaborative, which meant that we each paid for half of it and we both got to use it.

Writing in it had been a lot of fun. We'd passed the diary back and forth for three years. At one point, we thought about keeping a blog instead, but then we saw a story on the news about two girls in Utah who had one, and they posted lots of pictures of their cats, and they got over one hundred thousand hits a month. Sylvie and I didn't want one hundred thousand hits a month, so we kept writing in our diary.

Except it wasn't fun anymore. Because I didn't want anybody finding what we'd written. Some of it was stupid. Actually, a ton of it was. And I regretted that. Especially the stuff I wrote in third grade about liking Kettle Harris. He turned out to be such a dork. And if I went to middle school and somebody managed to find written proof that I liked a dork, I'd be bummed for the rest of my life. And ostracized. Which was what popular kids did to dorks and people who liked dorks. It basically meant that you lived inside an imaginary trash can and that nobody talked to you.

Sylvie held our diary over the hole, but she didn't drop it. I hadn't expected this event to take all afternoon. I sighed. I wanted to go to the big irrigation canal across from my house and observe the flotsam, and then go inside and watch television, and then beg my grandmother to drive us to the mall.

"What if I lock it inside something in my bedroom?" Sylvie asked.

"That's a terrible idea," I said. "Anytime you lock something up, you're just begging for it to get stolen." That was why criminals robbed bikes from bike racks. Didn't she know that?

"Sylvie, remember the pages where we left our toe prints and then wrote poems to our toes?"

Sylvie blinked. Sylvie was always blinking.

"And remember all those awful pictures we drew of our classmates with fart bubbles near their butts?"

Sylvie nodded. Those particular drawings occurred in fourth grade. The fart bubbles had been my idea. But she was the one who sketched them.

"The diary needs to disappear. When we show up at North Teton Middle School, we can't be haunted by our pasts. We need to walk down those halls like two brand-new people."

Sylvie looked up at me and did more blinking.

"Just toss it," I said.

She hesitated.

"But what if one day when I'm old, like thirty, I want to look back at how I was feeling and thinking when I was in elementary school?"

"That will never happen," I said. "Trust me."

I wanted the diary out of my life. In addition to its being embarrassing, I thought Sylvie had grown too attached to it. Sylvie held the notebook tightly as she stared down into the hole. The ground where we stood was about to have a storage lot built on top of it for farm equipment. And after that happened, after it was covered with a thick coat of cement, after front-end loaders and tractors and hay balers were parked there, our diary would be buried forever.

"Can I keep one part that means a lot to me?" she asked.

And even though I wanted her to throw the whole thing away, I also had a soft heart. And so I said, "Okay. But it has to be ten pages or less."

Sylvie opened the diary and tugged at a group of pages in its center. After she ripped them out, she folded them carefully and put them in her back pocket.

"What did you save?" I asked.

"My drawings of the ocean," Sylvie said.

And that really surprised me. Because those drawings weren't so hot. When Sylvie finally dropped the diary into the hole, the pages fluttered in the breeze like a bird trying to fly. Except it didn't fly. The diary dropped like a rock. Lower and lower. Bonk. Bonk. Bonk. It smacked against the side of the hole as it tumbled. And then the sounds ended.

"Kiss it goodbye," I said. "That thing is in China now."

I walked away from that hole in the ground, feeling like I'd solved something important.

"We're about to have the best year of our lives," I said.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

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(11)

4 Star

(4)

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013

    Love it

    This is the best book i have ever read and im only ten i suggest this book to every 10 year old in the world even though i think this is a book that i suggest for GIRLS

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2012

    Awesome

    This is like the best book ive ever read i reccomend it im 12 andits awesome

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2012

    Annonymous

    This book is awesome. I am 10 and I love it!!!!

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2012

    Great!!

    I love this book soooo much and i know a lot of 10-13 year olds would too. One thing that kind of scared me (since next year im going into middle school) is in this book it gives middle school a bad rep even though i know middle school wont be like this. Yes there will be bullies and bigger kids, but Bessica came totally unprepared and alone since her and Sylvie got separated plus her gma is out exploring caves in the US. She doesnt know anybody else there either. Most schools arent as big as North and South Teton so they dont have to split. What im saying is if you are afraid of what middle school will be like bc of this book, you dont have to worry bc you will most likely not go into middle school totally alone. You DO NOT need to change everything just to fit in. I know many people who did just fine in middle school and they didnt change a thing

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 7, 2011

    Nice book

    Great

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    Is it good?

    Hows this book?

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2013

    Great story ever

    This was one of the best books ive ever read it tells so much about bessicas life but i wish it just told about bessica going through her puberty hahas

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2012

    Hi

    Tell me if its good!!!!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 6, 2011

    Hi

    U must tead this it is so good

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2013

    Greatness

    This book i would reccomend to ages 9 1/2- 12 1/2 i think it was funny and heartfelt and im 10 and read it in 2 hours (I couldnt put it down) ;)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2012

    I loved it

    Loved it! It was amazing written and was hilarious! I would recomend it for girls going through a hard time in middle school....

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2012

    The reinvention of besixca lefter

    It is a really good book

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2014

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!! ; )

    Hi. I'm 12 and I love The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter. I did not read it on my nook, but it was still awesome. Exept it did get me more nervous about going to seventh grade in middle school next year. So basically, this book kind of gave middle school a bad reputation. But, it shouldn't be that bad, right? Anyway, The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter is a book l HIGHLY recommend to everyone who is going to face something totally new: middle school.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2014

    What

    Is the hair shop insidint

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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