Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Review: Reel Life Starring Us by Lisa Greenwald
Publisher: Amulet Books
Released: October 1st, 2011
Grade rating: B/B+
Rockwood Hills junior high is known for its competitive academics and for the close-knit cliques that rule the school. When 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's own life has bigger problems than Dina can imagine - and the new girl might just get caught in the middle.
Reel Life Starring Us is the first of Lisa Greenwald's books I've read and also just happens to be the best MG book for girls I've read in ages. It's set during Chelsea and Dina's eighth grade year, includes lots of handy film tips and techniques and is all about being yourself and accepting others for who they are. Honestly, it's got great messages for teenage girls - every school library should have a copy!
The book is narrated by our two main characters, Chelsea and Dina. Now Chelsea is the rich, superficial popular girl with horrible friends, while Dina is the new girl trying to fit in in her new school. Dina was popular at her old school, but at Rockwood Hills she's seen as weird and a bit too out there. She carries a camera and videos stuff, and this little hobby is what gets her paired with Chelsea for a class project. Instead of switching partners like she wants to, Chelsea continues to work with Dina and soon changes her tune. She realises that her friends aren't nice people to be around, and that Dina is actually a lot cooler than she seems. After a family secret is brought into the limelight by her so-called friends, Chelsea really reassesses her friendships and makes some conscious changes to her school life.
Both of these girls are written so well and I'm sure every teenage reader will see a little of themselves in them, or at the very least someone they know. Changing friendships and eye-opening situations are things everyone goes through in school, so in that respect Dina and Chelsea are absolutely no different. I do think some of their problems are a bit trivial to be given so much attention, but then again everything can seem magnified when you're 13 and finding out who you are.
I enjoyed Reel Life Starring Us, for all of its important messages and its realistic portrayal of middle school. The mean clique were slightly too over the top for me at times, but without them the story would be a lot different. I think teen girls will love this story of acceptance and understanding, and it certainly won't be the last of Lisa Greenwald's books that I read.