Author: Kiera Stewart
Publication: Hyperion Book CH (November 8, 2011)
Description: Olivia has just about had it with the popular kids at school. She and her friends have done nothing to deserve humiliating pranks and mean name-calling, but that doesn’t stop queen bee Brynne from tormenting them. If only Olivia’s classmates were more like the dogs she helps her grandmother train—poorly behaved, but improvable. Then Olivia hatches a brilliant plan: she and her friends will modify their tormentors’ behavior with the same kind of training that works on dogs. Using cues and responses, distractions and rewards, gets better results than anyone could have guessed. Soon, Olivia and her friends have replaced Brynne as alpha-dogs. But will popularity get Olivia what she really wants?
My Thoughts: This was a great story about the ups and downs of middle school. Olivia and her friends are tired of being the social outcasts of the school. When Olivia decides that they should try some of the techniques the her grandmother uses in dog training on their fellow students, they are skeptical but willing to try. And, all too soon, they begin seeing the positive results of their actions. The former alpha dog - Brynne - is now the social outcast and all of the kids are going through changes.
Olivia is torn between the success of her strategies and feeling sorry for Brynne. Somehow she has become Brynne's only friend and lost touch with her other friends. When she wants to mend fences with her friends, Brynne doesn't react well.
This story had all the pain and drama of middle school life - changing friendships, crushes, social embarrassment. It brought back my own memories of those days. It really doesn't matter how far you have come from middle school, some of the trauma remains. It is such a hard time for kids because emotions are so volatile. The story was well-written and the characters were very realistic. I really liked Olivia's viewpoint and her strength coping with all the changes in her life.
Middle graders might be tempted to try Olivia's techniques. Hopefully their results will be better than Olivia's.
Favorite Quote (about the villain of the story):
And it's not just the boys who flock to her--the girls do too. Even if you don't like her, you kind of have to be in awe of her. Not only because of the way she looks--she just has this air about her like she's scared of nothing and entitled to everything. It's like someone really did die and make her queen of the universe.I received this eARC from NetGalley. You can get your copy of the book here.