Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything

Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything

by E Lockhart


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"I think this might be the best YA novel . . . I've ever read." John Green

From E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars—the New York Times bestselling phenomenon—and the uproarious and heartwarming Ruby Oliver books, comes a fast-paced and hysterically funny novel that answers the question: What would it be like to be a fly on the wall in the boy's locker room?

At the Manhattan School for Art and Music, where everyone is “different” and everyone is “special,” Gretchen Yee feels ordinary. She’s the kind of girl who sits alone at lunch, drawing pictures of Spider-Man, so she won’t have to talk to anyone; who has a crush on Titus but won’t do anything about it; who has no one to hang out with when her best (and only real) friend Katya is busy.

One day, Gretchen wishes that she could be a fly on the wall in the boys’ locker room–just to learn more about guys. What are they really like? What do they really talk about? Are they really cretins most of the time?

Fly on the Wall is the story of how that wish comes true.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385732826
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 11/13/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 533,003
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

E. Lockhart is the author of the highly acclaimed New York Times bestseller We Were Liars and the Ruby Oliver quartet (The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Live Boyfriends), as well as Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, and How to Be Bad (the last with Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle). Her novel The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book, a finalist for the National Book Award, and winner of a Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Novel. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Read an Excerpt

I am eating alone in the lunchroom.


Ever since Katya started smoking cigarettes, she's hanging out back by the garbage cans, lighting up with the Art Rats. She bags her lunch, so she takes it out there and eats potato chips in a haze of nicotine.
I hate smoking, and the Art Rats make me nervous. So here I am: in my favorite corner of the lunchroom, sitting on the floor with my back against the wall. I'm eating fries off a tray and drawing my own stuff—not anything for class.

Quadriceps. Quadriceps.


Calf muscle.

Dull point; must sharpen pencil.

Hell! Pencil dust in fries.

Whatever. They still taste okay.

Calf muscle.



KA-POW! Spider-Man smacks Doctor Octopus off the edge of the building with a swift kick to the jaw. Ock's face contorts as he falls backward, his metal tentacles flailing with hysterical fear. He has an eighty-story fall beneath him, and—
Spidey has a great physique. Built, but not too built. Even if I did draw him myself.

I think I made his butt too small.


I wish I had my pink eraser, I don't like this white one.



Connecting to: leg . . . and . . . quadriceps.

There. A finished Spidey outline. I have to add the suit. And some shadowing. And the details of the building. Then fill in the rest of Doc Ock as he hurtles off the edge.

Mmmm. French fries.

Hell again! Ketchup on Spidey.

Lick it off.

Cammie Holmes is staring at me like I'm some lower form of life.
"What are you looking at?" I mutter.


"Then. Stop. Staring," I say, sharpening my pencil again, though it doesn't need it.

This Cammie is all biscuits. She's stacked like a character in a comic book. Cantaloupes are strapped to her chest.

Her only redeeming quality.

"Why are you licking your Superman drawing?" Cammie tips her nose up. "That's so kinky. I mean, I've heard of licking a centerfold, but licking Superman?"




"Whatever. Get a life, Gretchen."

She's gone. From across the lunchroom comes her nasal voice: "Taffy, get this: I just caught Gretchen Yee giving oral to some Superman drawing she made."

Spider. Spider. Spider-Man.

"She would." Taffy Johnson. Stupid tinkly laugh.

Superman is a big meathead. I'd never draw Superman. Much less give him oral.

I haven't given anybody oral, anyway.

I hate those girls.

Taffy is doing splits in the middle of the lunchroom floor, which is just gross. Who wants to see her crotch like that? Though of course everybody does, and even if they didn't, she wouldn't care because she's such a unique spirit or whatever.

I hate those girls, and I hate this place: the Manhattan High School for the Arts. Also known as Ma-Ha.

Supposedly, it's a magnet high school for students talented in drawing, painting, sculpture or photography. You have to submit a portfolio to get in, and when I did mine (which was all filled with inks of comic-book characters I taught myself to draw in junior high) and when I finally got my acceptance letter, my parents were really excited. But once you're here, it's nothing but an old, ugly New York public school building, with angry teachers and crap facilities like any other city public school—except I've got drawing class every day, painting once a week and art history twice. I'm in the drawing program.

Socially, Ma-Ha is like the terrible opposite of the schools you see on television, where everyone wants to be the same as everyone else. On TV, if you don't conform and wear what the popular kids are wearing, and talk like they talk, and act like they do—then you're a pariah.
Here, everyone wants to be different.

People have mohawks and dreadlocks and outrageous thrift-store clothes; no one would be caught dead in ordinary jeans and a T-shirt, because they're all so into expressing their individuality. A girl from the sculpture program wears a sari every day, even though her family's Scandinavian. There's that kid who's always got that Pink Panther doll sticking out of her jacket pocket; the boy who smokes using a cigarette holder like they did in forties movies; a girl who's shaved her head and pierced her cheeks; Taffy, who does Martha Graham-technique modern dance and wears her leotard and sweats all day; and Cammie, who squeezes herself into tight goth outfits and paints her lips vampire red.

They all fit in here, or take pride in not fitting in, if that makes any sense—and if you're an ordinary person you've got to do something at least, like dye your hair a strange color, because nothing is scorned so much as normalcy. Everyone's a budding genius of the art scene; everyone's on the verge of a breakthrough. If you're a regular-looking person with regular likes and dislikes and regular clothes,
and you can draw so it looks like the art in a comic book,
but you can't "express your interior life on the page," according to Kensington (my drawing teacher),
and if you can't "draw what you see, rather than imitate what's in that third-rate trash you like to read" (Kensington again),
then you're nothing at Ma-Ha.

Nothing. That's me.

Gretchen Kaufman Yee. Ordinary girl.

Two months ago I capitulated to nonconformity-conformity and had my hair bleached white and then dyed stop-sign red. It cost sixty dollars and it pissed off my mother, but it didn't work.

I'm still ordinary.

Customer Reviews

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Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gretchen is a very relatable character that readers will fall in love with. E. Lockhart did an amazing job. This was my first book I read by her and it was well writen. I would say that is actually 4.5 stars and for readers Grade 8 and up. Overall, it was a great read.
michelleknudsen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I *loved* this book. I almost didn¿t want to read it because the cover made it look kind of silly or frivolous or something. But it wasn¿t, not at all. It was fun, but also serious, and felt very real and true and enlightening throughout. The voice was perfect and I was immediately right there in Gretchen¿s world and believed everything, including all the stuff she heard/saw in the locker room. I liked the way Lockhart used line breaks throughout to capture the feeling of Gretchen¿s thought patterns, and the italics vs. roman for thoughts vs. narrative worked great too. Excellent, excellent read, all around. I hope her other stuff is this good, because now I want to read all of it.
craphael on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Gretchen Yee, a student at the Manhattan School for Art and Music, wishes she were a fly on the wall of the boys' locker room, she never expects her wish to come true in such a dramatic way. (CIP)This book was very good. It's what you think but it's not what you think.. A very good read..
heike6 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book to older teenage girls... if I was in a less conservative area. The boy you have a crush on just might be insecure...
airielle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book so far is about a girl whose parents get divorced. She goes to an art school because she is very talented. She is a pack rat with her collections of many miscellaneous items. When she is told that her parents are getting divorced she must get rid of her things. For her that is a big deal because she enjoys her cluttered room.
risadabomb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very cute fairy tale for teens. Enjoyable, quick read, highly recommended.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gretchen's wish to be a fly on the wall in the boys locker room coems true, giving her insights into more than just male anatomy. This was fun, I enjoyed it, it felt a little slight and a little predictable. But a nifty highschool story about fitting in and standing out. I'd give this for younger teens looking for something entertaining about relationships or boys.
kac2995 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i think it is a good book but it is sort of weird. if you want to no what guys think and stuff this is a good book for you.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
For Gretchen Yee life as an artificial redhead is anything but glamorous. A student at the Manhattan High School for the Arts (New Yorkers think: La Guardia) with girls wearing unitards or saris and cliques like the Art Rats, Gretchen feels too ordinary to belong. She stands out not because she's special or unique but because she's ordinary save for her stop-sign-red hair. Gretchen is also lonely and confused. Her best friend is more and more distant and the boys at her school-like her crush the fantastically amazing and artistic and offbeat Titus? Well, they don't make any sense either. Then Gretchen makes an idle wish to spend one week as a fly on the wall of the boy's locker room not expecting much to change.* But sometimes, wishes don't like to stay idle. Sometimes they like to come true. Life as a vermin isn't much more glamorous than life as an artificial redhead. But it's certainly more informative. Gretchen gets to observe the boys as they come and go for each gym class. Lower classmen, acquaintances, friends, and even her crush, are all available to scrutinize. Instead of just learning, as she had expected, about what the boys really look like under those baggy jeans and t-shirts and what they really think and say behind closed doors-Gretchen also gets a chance to find out how she fits into the school. When the week is over Gretchen might have even learned enough to live life not as an artificial redhead or a vermin but as a superhero. I like Gretchen a lot as a character. She is also a comic book fan which almost always makes a character fun to read about. Excuse the pun, but after being a fly, Gretchen's metamorphosis from insecure to empowered girl really starts. At times Lockhart's language seemed a little . . . unique. (You can tell me what you think after reading her segment on "gherkins.") I don't know if it's that she's using slang that I find weird and this is therefore only my problem, but it just made me hyper-aware that I was reading a book at certain points in the story. As for the plot, it's a classic problem-resolution kind of story. Which I like. If you need to pick up something light and fun after a sad book I'd recommend this. Finally, even though you think the book is about a girl turning into a fly which is a fair assumption, it's really about more than that too. Specifically, it's about a girl learning to go after what she wants. *Basically, Fly on the Wall takes Franz Kafka's plot from The Metamorphosis and brings it into the modern world and into a book that would appeal to teenage girls. And, for that reason, I almost didn't read it. I hated reading The Metamorphosis in high school and, to be honest, I still strongly dislike the book and avoid Kafka at all costs because of it. BUT, I am happy to say that the similarity to Kafka's novel begins and ends with Gretchen turning into a fly. Possible Pairings: Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga, The Superhero Handbook by Michael Powell, Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan, The Fly (movie)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
yeah, wow. e. lockhart, i already know, is an awesome author. this was the only published book by her i haven't yet read. i REALLY liked it. the length surprised me (roughly 200 pages although you can easily find that out yourself) but despite it being quick, you still really get involved with the characters. gretchen is relateable, witty and artsy--my kind of girl! i'd recommend this to anyone, especially a girl, who isn't intimidated by too cool people. ;) because i kinda wish i were gretchen sometimes, especially at the end where she realized that her life really isn't so bad. i liked it a lot!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would highly recommend this book to a friend that is in middle or high school or for kids that have parents going through relationship problems..What made me like was it had alot of,emotion,vocabulary that you wouldnt see in a regular book I mostly liked the detail in the book. I liked this author so much I think I might read another book by her called the boyfriend list,I herd I got good reviews,and five stars. Theirs nothing i didn't liked about this book, i liked this book from beginning till end.I`m really glad i chose this book for my summer reading project.
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