Thursday, July 15, 2010

ARC Tour & Review: Nice & Mean by Jessica Leader

Marina is mean. Sachi is nice. Marina is Barney’s. Sachi is Burlington Coat Factory. It’s bad enough they’re forced to coexist in their middle-school’s high-profile video elective—but now they’re being forced to work together on the big semester project. Marina’s objective? Out her wannabe BFF as a fashion victim to the entire middle school. 

Sachi’s objective? Prove that she’s not just the smiley class pencil-lender and broaden her classmates’ cultural horizons. Work together in harmony? Yeah, that would be a "no." How can Sachi film something meaningful, and Marina, something fabulous, if they’re yoked to each other?

If you're looking for a cute, fun and fresh middle grade read, look no further. Jessica Leader was able to bring out the personalities, situations and attitudes of typical middle school students in Nice and Mean. The unique idea of having the two main characters, Marina and Sachi, compile a video compilation together for an end of year school project would be one thing, but these two girls are from opposite ends of the spectrum in every way you can imagine and it's hilarious to read.

This book did have lessons to be learned, but Leader didn't come off too preachy. She instead used the girls' voices in their alternating individual chapter narrations to help readers realize that not everything is as it seems. Stereotypes are broken down and realizations are made. While at times I had some trouble connecting with all of the characters, I think this may have been due to my age (it's been a while since I've been out of middle school). With that being said, I think middle grade age readers should not face the same problems.

Nice and Mean is about growing up and becoming a better individual. Looking underneath the surface of people and your perceptions of them plays a big role. Leader managed to have readers learning the same lessons and coming to the same conclusions as the characters themselves. While middle grade books might not be my go-to picks for reading, this one I enjoyed and was glad I picked it up.

I gave Nice and Mean 3 shamrocks!!!

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