Everyone knows Marianne isn't good at academic things. It's a joke, really, and she laughs about it, too. That's a lot better than trying as hard as possible and still not understanding. But when a teacher warns her that her failing grade might keep her in middle school an extra year, Marianne grabs a lifeline - and that lifeline is the extra credit she'll get if she joins the quiz team. The quiz team is populated by three smart kids who need a fourth to qualify, and no one is completely sure what Marianne can bring to the table, especially Marianne herself.
Lots of middle school students struggle with hiding aspects of themselves - at school, at home, and with friends - but this treatment is especially convincing in the astute way that Marianne adapts according to her audience, even while she struggles to maintain academic material at school. While the resolution might be a bit simplistic, the story is one that many readers will be glad to discover. Without being heavy-handed, this book invites readers to question what success means, and what we do or should value.
Note: Although this character is in eighth grade, the story is accessible to younger middle school students, including fifth graders, without mature scenes or content.
"No, she wasn't into any of that. She was into hours spent doing crafts with Skyla. She had just started to learn how to make rugs out of old T-shirts. She liked cuddling with Possum while she listened to Lillian sing."
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