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Reviewed by:
  • Mission (Un)Popular
  • Karen Coats
Humphrey, Anna. Mission (Un)Popular. Disney Hyperion, 2011. 401p. ISBN 978-1-4231-2301-9 $16.99 R Gr. 6–9.

Margot Button has a hard time thinking before she speaks, so she always seems to be saying the wrong thing. She also has a hard time dealing with the mean girl at her school, Sarah J., but she has a really good best friend, Erika. After a dare issued by the cool kids and taken up by Margot’s impulsive agreement goes horribly awry, however, Erika’s parents decide Margot is a bad influence and send Erika to Catholic school, leaving Margot to face Sarah J. alone in seventh grade. A new girl, Em, appears on the scene and, in quick succession, befriends Margot, alienates Erika, and encourages Margot into open warfare with Sarah J. Behind Em’s charisma, generosity (to Margot, at least), and persuasive abilities, though, is a quality Margot doesn’t quite trust, but she doesn’t heed her instincts until it’s too late. Although this narrative features a common enough plotline in today’s bully lit, the story goes into more depth than most offerings of this type, highlighting Margot’s ambivalences toward the various people in her life in ways that fully flesh out her character. Unlike many girl characters dealing with insecurities and bullies, Margot doesn’t lapse into hyperbole and exclamation points; rather she emerges as thoughtful, self-reflective, and often confused, thus effectively capturing the nuanced experience of seventh grade in a credible and compelling way. Junior-high girls whose mouths sometimes get them into trouble, who suffer from bad hair and eyebrow days, and whose crushes are at odds with those who crush on them—in other words, all junior-high girls—will find much to relate to in Margot. [End Page 84]



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