Monday, September 6, 2010
What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader
What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader is a middlegrade novel by Adrianne Ambrose.
Now that Elaine Rewitzer is in middle school, she can't help but want to try out for the one thing she has always secretly wanted to do: cheerleading. But as a comic-book-loving, sitting-far-from-the-popular-crowd-at-lunch girl, how could this dream ever work out the way it is supposed to in her mind? Not to mention still have time for her friends. And somehow get the cutest boy in school to notice her. Written in first-person, diary form, this is Elaine's story of how her life gets way more complicated once she makes it onto the cheerleading squad.
Though the main character, Elaine, is only 11-years-old and in 6th grade, she is easily likable and relatable. After all, don't we all remember middle school? Right away What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader shocked me with how much it reminded me of MY diary back in middle school.
One thing I really, really liked about What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader, and also causes me to recommend it heavily to any middle school girls (but you, too!), was how it really represents a portion of kids that don't get represented that much in books - the struggling, single, apartment living family.
This book, despite its deceptively simple story and light plot, is compulsively readable and truly authentic reading. I can't think of a middle school girl that wouldn't feel strongly connected to Elaine and her feelings and problems.
What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader is down-to-earth, real-life drama. It's charming and understated. Just as Meg Cabot alarmingly catches the essence of 4th grade in the Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls series, Adrianne Ambrose does the same for 6th grade with her exceptional quality of writing.
It honestly captures the painful part of middle school without being melodramatic. Adrianne Ambrose shines a bright light on human behavior that transcends even the middle school setting and enters the adult world. It manages to be sweet and uplifting without trying too hard.
What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader is a fun, easy read with excellent, right-on lessons (not condescending or patronizing) that girls of all ages can relate to. It's a great, accurate, pure portrayal that I recommend to older readers as well as the younger ones.