This is going to be a much speedier review of The Rites & Wrongs of Janice Wills than this book deserves, because today was the first day of school and this librarian is tired right down to her bones. Yes siree. How many books can one girl shelve all alone? A kazillion. That’s how many. My wrists actually hurt, if that’s possible. But enough kvetching. I should be happy because now I have a library full of books to poach from.
I know that my library needs a copy of Joanna Pearson’s YA debut because it is fun and witty and tightly written. It has a similar tone to Maureen Johnson’s books. It’s not showy. It stars a pretty ordinary nerdy girl, insecure but hopeful, who dreams of becoming a star anthropologist and gets a lot of practice by observing her peers and the strange rituals of high school life. But Janice uses her anthropology passion to hide from life a little bit. It gives her an excuse to not put herself out there and experience things that many other teenagers try out and mess up and learn from. For instance, her town’s Miss Livermush pageant, which Janice’s mother is dying for her to be involved in. Janice finally agrees, deciding that being involved is really just all in the name of science. Of course along the way there is some romance and there are lessons to be learned, and Janice finds herself living the ritual in ways she hadn’t ever expected.
Sure to make anthropology cool (not that it wasn’t already), The Rites & Wrongs of Janice Wills is a sassy, feel-good, back-to-school read.
The Rites & Wrongs of Janice Wills is published by Arthur A. Levine Books.