The Barnes & Noble Review
Three Aussie girls become pen pals with three guys at another school in this delightful, high-spirited read by Feeling Sorry for Celia author Jaclyn Moriarty.
Told entirely through letters, diary entries, emails, and other writing, Moriarty's novel introduces us to Emily, Lydia, and Cassie -- all students at Ashbury High -- who begin writing to their Brookfield High counterparts through the schools' organized pen pal project. Readers learn quickly that each girl has her own writing style and that at two of the Brookfield boys (Seb and Charlie) seem to be smitten with Lydia and Emily. The only trouble is Cassie's pen pal, Matthew, a shady character who first sends her short, threatening letters and then becomes strangely sweet toward her. Nobody can figure out why Cassie keeps writing to him, but after she has a crushing meet-up with Matthew, Cassie discovers -- with the help of her friends and the Brookfield guys -- that he hasn't been honest about his identity. All could be ended there, but when Charlie helps take revenge and Brookfield High gets mysteriously vandalized, the group comes together to deliver justice and save the endangered pen pal project.
Fresh and impressive, Moriarty's novel is lighthearted fare that will keep readers glued to the end. In particular, her knack for capturing different writing styles shines the spotlight on her own talent, giving audiences clear inspiration to try their own diary or journal writing. Clearly centered on the girls while incorporating romance and fun guy personalities -- Rachel Cohn and Meg Cabot fans will eat this up. Shana Taylor
From the Publisher
Horn Book Magazine
STARRED (March 1, 2004; 0-439-49881-3)
(High School) From the author of Feeling Sorry for Celia comes a second comic novel about gal-pals--and pen pals--set in the same Australian high school and focusing once again on the Famous Ashbury-Brookfield Pen Pal Project. The novel follows private school students Lydia, Emily, and Cassie as they are assigned to write letters to students at Brookfield High, despite Emily's complaint to their English teacher that "it's probably against our constitutional rights to make us associate with drug dealers and murderers." The three girls have been friends 4-ever, but things haven't been the same between them since Cassie's father died a year ago, and Cassie gets even weirder once they begin writing to their pen pals, all boys. The novel--written entirely in letters, diary entries, e-mails, etc.--is fast and funny but not frothy. Moriarty's story is complex, original, and unpredictable enough that it's much more than a guilty-pleasure read. The format, along with the humor and romance, will draw Louise Rennison fans--and give them just as much flash, with a whole lot more substance. Copyright 2004 of The Horn Book, Inc. All rights reserved
School Library Journal
(March 1, 2004; 0-439-49881-3)
Gr 7-10-Lydia, Emily, and Cassie are longtime friends who share almost everything, especially the secret assignments that they have cooked up for one another in times of need since elementary school. When their English teacher assigns them pen pals (all boys) from rival Brookfield High, they strike out on their own to connect individually with their pen friends. Sebastian, Lydia's pal, is an artist who loves soccer and is intrigued by the covert assignments that she gives him. Emily's Charlie is a lot of fun and a true sweetheart, despite a few escapades such as stealing cars. Cassie's pen pal hates her and is rude and threatening. The story-told through journal entries, letters, e-mails, and notes-chronicles a year filled with spy missions, false alarms, lock picking, and a major war between the two schools that ends with a legal battle. The adventures of the friends are funny, exciting, and, at times, poignant as they deal with problems of growing up and developing relationships. This delightful book set in Australia is full of fun, engaging characters, and important messages about friendship.-Janet Hilbun, formerly at Sam Houston Middle School, Garland, TX Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
(February 2, 2004; 0-439-49881-3)
Once again, Moriarty (Feeling Sorry for Celia) uses an epistolary format to bring to life the voices of contemporary teens. Best friends Lydia, Emily and Cassie attend Ashbury, an Australian private school. Their "year of secret assignments" begins when their English teacher pairs them with pen pals from neighboring Brookfield High, a rougher school where students "have more tattoos and prison time." Although the girls are a bit wary about writing to strangers, their correspondence with boys their age spawns some interesting, often hilarious exchanges of confidences that lead to a series of clandestine meetings and daring escapades. Lydia and Emily form solid bonds with their pen pals, Seb and Charlie, but more vulnerable Cassie has trouble relating to her partner, a mysterious, cynical boy named Matthew, who (according to Seb and Charlie) does not exist. This energetic novel reveals the author's keen understanding of teen dynamics and invites audience members to read between the lines to discover what makes each character tick. Containing elements of mystery, espionage, romance and revenge, Moriarty's story will likely satisfy hearty appetites for suspense and fun. Ages 12-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
(January 1, 2004 STARRED)
Gr. 8-12. In her debut for youth, Mori