Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fly on the Wall

Man, I love E. Lockhart. After enjoying Dramarama and naming The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks as my favorite book I read last year, I knew that Fly on the Wall would be an instant favorite. As usual, my fake best friend E. Lockhart did not disappoint.

Our heroine is Gretchen Yee, an outsider in a school of outsiders: Manhatten School for the Arts. While she is a gifted comic book artist, she is not as flamboyant as her nonconformist peers. She is struggling with feeling unnoticed by her classmates and her crush, her parents' impending divorce, and poor grades. In a nod to the Kafka novel she's been ignoring, Gretchen wishes she could be a fly on the wall in the boys' locker room...and somehow, it happens.

The science of Gretchen's transformation isn't explained, but it doesn't matter. What matters is the insight that she gets into the teenage boys that seemed so baffling to her. Through her fly eyes, she sees that they are just as insecure and confused as she is. Gretchen also spends a good amount of time examining their "gherkins" before she realizes that there's really no mystery involved in their nudity. There are a lot of sexual references in the novel, but they are thought-provoking and empowering for Gretchen (and hopefully, the reader).

I love E. Lockhart's writing style. Her characters are realistic and interesting, almost aspirational in their teenage coolness. The words she chooses are worth savoring and the plots always involve a teenage girl becoming more feminist. I highly recommend this book to students in the ninth grade and up.

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