Review Blog

Mar 28 2007

Worse than boys by Catherine McPhail

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Bloomsbury.
Age Lower to middle secondary. The Lip Gloss Girls have it all. A tightly knit group of four confident girls who do everything together, they make fun of others at their school, a Scottish secondary school, and feel that everyone wants to be part of their group. Erin, the leader, makes the rules, and is the one they emulate and copy. When Erin's sister marries, the three friends are invited to the wedding, and it is here that things go awry. Erin under the influence of alcohol reveals a secret she has kept hidden from all of her friends. When the secret is broadcast at school, the group blames Hannah, and blanks her.

How Hannah reacts forms the rest of this well constructed novel. Hannah falls into depression, no longer having the security of being within the group, and she is taken in by the Lip Gloss Girls' rival, the Hell Cats. In the past none of the Lip Gloss Girls would be seen dead with a member of this group, and the two gangs have often fallen out, causing a great deal of tension within the school. But Hannah is desperate to belong, and as the whole school has made up its mind as to how Erin's secret was revealed, Hannah has no choice but to join.

McPhail's books never fail to please. They are always up to the minute, engaging and credible. With this novel, the issues of bullying and belonging are explored within the framework of Hannah's distress. Hannah is wretched that her once close knit group is now so distant. She is appalled that no one will believe her, and her many efforts to get back into the gang are exploited by Erin as further testament to her duplicity. Lower to middle secondary girls will love this book, and it could well be compared with Alyssa Brugman's Walking Naked or Kate McAffrey's Destroying Avalon.
Fran Knight

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