Luv Ya Bunches Review
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As Rivendell Elementary School opens its doors for another school year, the fifth-grade girls are excited (and nervous!) about the new year’s possibilities. New girl Violet is worried about starting a new school—but she’s even more worried about things at home. Computer whiz Yasaman and aspiring director Katie-Rose just want to make some friends for a change. And Camilla (who’s known as Milla) is feeling conflicted about her role in the popular girls’ new Panda Club.

They’re four very different girls, but they do share one thing in common: they’ve all been bossed around by Modessa (A.K.A. Medusa), the fifth grade’s self-appointed queen bee. And when an accident on the first day of school leaves one of the girls without her lucky turtle bobble-head—and the other three feeling guilty—they start to realize that there’s more to fifth grade than following Modessa’s orders.

  
 
The first book in author Lauren Myracle’s new series for tween girls, Luv Ya Bunches introduces young readers to a cast of lovable (and also a couple of not-so-lovable) characters. It’s certainly an all-inclusive read, as the four main characters come from all kinds of racial, religious, and social backgrounds (Katie-Rose is half-Chinese, Violet is African American, Yasaman is Muslim, and Milla has two moms). But while their diversity sometimes feels a bit forced (though probably more so for cynical older readers like me), the story’s heart is definitely in the right place. The characters may be diverse, but their experiences and their feelings are often the same—and girls of any age will be able to relate to the bullying and the belittling, as well as the phobias, the fears, and the quest for popularity.

At times, the characters do seem to act (and sound) quite a bit older than their 10 years, but they’re likeable (and well-developed) characters nonetheless. Not one of them is perfect. Each has her own problems, concerns, and secrets—and they don’t always make the right decisions, either. But that’s exactly what makes them seem real.

The story feels real, too—from the backstabbing and the all-out nastiness to the cleverly passive-aggressive way in which the girls do battle. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that it’s a story that takes place in some form or another in the halls of every school on every single day. But that only makes it even more entertaining—because we’ve all been there, though not all of us have been able to come out on top, as these girls do.

Myracle’s style also makes the book fun to read. It’s written in a mix of formats—screenplay, IM exchange, dream sequence, chat room conversation, and narrative—and the result feels like a tech-savvy tween Mean Girls (only in book form, of course). Pick up a copy for your favorite tween girl, and she might just step away from her computer long enough to read it.

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