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Kitchen Table Reviews: Juicy Gossip

Mir and her daughter dive into a tween novel that's not as juicy or gossipy as the title suggests, but is still good girly fun.

By Mir Kamin | September 25 , 2009
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<i>Juicy Gossip by Erin Downing</i>
Juicy Gossip by Erin Downing

This week my son was felled by a nasty virus, so I left him languishing on the couch and decided to pick a good “girly” book for me and my daughter to read without him. Juicy Gossip is about seventh grader Jenna, who starts an anonymous gossip column in her school’s paper. Surely nothing could go wrong with that, right…?

Me: Was this book what you expected?

Daughter: Yes and no. I mean, I think I was expecting something a little more… um…

Me: Racy?

Her: Yeah, kind of. But it’s about kids in middle school, and even the juicy gossip really isn’t that bad, although of course the idea of having your secrets revealed at school is always horrible.

Me: I thought the author did a great job of keeping this age-appropriate. You’re right in the target audience, age-wise. Did it feel like it was too young for you? Too old? Just right?

Daughter: Definitely just right.

Me: And did you think the characters were believable as kids your age? I thought so, but it’s been a long time since I was in middle school.

Daughter: Yeah, they read well, I thought. Like Jenna and Keisha’s friendship was just right, but I kind of wanted Keisha to stick up for Jenna more.

Me: But wasn’t Jenna kind of ditching her for the cooler kids?

Daughter: She didn’t mean to!

Me: Yes, but didn’t it seem that way to Keisha? We’re reading Jenna’s point of view, but wouldn’t you be mad if a friend did that to you?
Daughter: Yeah, I see your point. And also I thought the stuff about Jenna’s little brother and how embarrassing he was and the hats they had to wear at the juice stand were perfect. One problem: I don’t think any teacher would let the kids put a gossip column in the school paper!

Me: That was kind of hard to believe, huh?

Daughter: Yeah. Also, Stacey [one of the mean girls] really turning out to be nice?  I dunno.

Me: I really liked Jenna’s great relationship with her stepmom. Especially because middle school is a time when a lot of moms and daughters fight. And it wasn’t a big deal, it was just… there.

Daughter: Yeah, that was kind of cool.

Me: What was your favorite thing about the book?

Daughter: How it ends. But we can’t ruin it for people, so I won’t say more. I just liked how they resolved everything.

Me: I agree, I thought it was very cleverly done.

We both thought this one was good, girly fun!

Pros: Believable portrayal of the ups and downs of middle school life, without becoming inappropriate or being so sanitized that it’s boring. Positive (yet subtle) handling of a stepparent relationship. Ending includes both retribution and redemption for our heroine.

Cons: A large suspension of disbelief is required re: a gossip column in the school paper. While it’s nice to see a “mean girl” turn out to be not-so-mean, we’re not sure we totally believe that, either. Little brothers and pineapple hats.

Juicy Gossip isn’t all that juicy or gossipy, but still gets two thumbs from us girls at our kitchen table.

 

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