Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Sound of Your Voice...only Really Far Away by Frances O'Roark Dowell

The Secret Language of Girls trilogy #3. 232 p. Atheneum Books for Young Readers/ Simon & Schuster, August, 2013. 9781442432895. (Purchased.)

Marylin really likes being a cheerleader and being in the popular crowd. She's beginning to have an inkling about how tenuous her status is and that Mazie is watching her like a hawk. Winter break was a welcome relief for Marylin. She got to spend time with Benjamin and realizes that she like likes him. But a cheerleader dating the geeky Student Council president would upset the balance of the universe. But, what if she can convince Mazie and Ruby that she can influence Benjamin to vote for new uniforms for the cheerleaders since the Student Council has some money to allocate?

Kate thought she found a soul mate in Matthew, then he kissed her and is now acting weirdly inconsistent. She can't believe she's wasting time worrying about this stuff but finds herself seeking him out in the audio lab and obsessing about him with her friends. When he asks for her help writing a proposal for new equipment for the audio lab, she agrees even though she also wrote a proposal for her one of her friends. When did she become that kind of person?

While I've never seen a middle school equipped with an audio lab or such an influential and flush student counsel, I enjoyed this third book about evolving friendship. Both Marylin and Kate are authentic, thoughtful characters. Each can be, at 
turns, shallow and annoying and endearing and sincere. Secondary characters, especially Kate's dad are nicely fleshed out. One of the things I admire most about Dowell's writing is how well she conveys small and subtle - gestures, body language, dialogue. She definitely shows, not tells and does so in an economy of pages. 

The book can stand alone but I would encourage tween readers to start with The Secret Language of Girls and read the entire trilogy. I have plenty of fans of the first two at my school who can't wait to check this one out. 

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