Review first published 17/05/12
It’s 1988, and Charlie Woodchuck is the most minor of niners. At thirteen, she’s the youngest girl at Snowy Cove High School, and so clueless, she wore leg warmers and acid-wash jeans on her first day. Big mistake! Almost as big a mistake as signing up for a boys-only shop class. Doy.
Just when she thinks the first week of high school can’t get any more weird, Charlie discovers she may be adopted. According to her Science textbook, her eyes should be blue, not brown.
Now the girl with the boy’s name will have to use her detective skills to uncover the mystery of her identity. She’ll need the help of best friend Stacy, expert blackmailer, and new friend Ross, expert class clown.
Before the year ends, Charlie will face down the biggest bullies of all: the all-powerful members of Snowy Cove’s School Board. The Board doesn’t like what Charlie’s been up to, and they’re all out of doughnuts.
Full of ninth grade ups and downs, Charlie Woodchuck is a Minor Niner is a humorous, fast-paced read that will appeal to young teenagers, or those longing to take a road trip back to high school in the ’80s.
I managed get this book through the Amazon site as, and currently still is a freebie, and it was a nice, little diversion from some of the darker subject matter that I’ve been reading as of late.
The writing by Dalya Moon is character driven, as opposed to plot driven, and is squarely from the point of view of the book’s lead character, Charlaine “Charlie” Woodchuck. Charlie is a character who is trying to make sense of who she is as a person both through her act of rebellion and her quest to find out whether she’s adopted. She’s also funny without falling into the teen-character trap of being annoying.
She’s surrounded by cast of characters of various ages and motivations. Whether it be the flight best friend in Stacy, the brainy Kendra, the smart mouthed Ross ,or the revolting Otter Veiner, there’s a character who’s relatable to your time in school – whether you were a student in the 80’s, like myself, or you’re a student now.
The adults are represented by characters who are there to move the plot along such as Charlie’s parents and the teachers at the school.
The Eighties setting is very much in the background except for references to the fashion of the time, iconic films such as “The Lost Boys” or “Ghostbusters”, or “teen idols” of the time such as Tom Cruise. In fact, you could move the story to the present day with very little interruption to the stories premise.
Given the fact that that part of this story’s premise is the fact that Charlie suspecting that she is adopted, it’s a lightweight novel that trades on light comedy, rather than being maudling.
As I said earlier, it’s a lightweight book suitable for Middle Grade/early Young Adult readers and worth the free price tag.