When new girl in school Dina is assigned to work on a video project with popular girl Chelsea, she thinks it’s a great in to the popular crowd. Chelsea’s not interested, and has way bigger problems at home: her dad lost his job, her family is on the edge of ruin, and her parents can’t stop fighting. Dina and Chelsea are thrown together, but will they survive the project–and each other?
Frequently funny and keenly observant about middle school life, Greenwald’s Reel Life Starring Us plays into this generations technology connections and mostly succeeds. Offering dual narration from Dina and Chelsea, Greenwald manages to mostly craft separate voices for the two girls. While Dina often sounds to precocious for her own good (and often too much like an older high school girl), Chelsea’s increasingly reflective voice helps soften the narration.
Both girls offer insights into the world of popularity, and Greenwald is careful to demonstrate that students on both sides of the spectrum are susceptible to bullying and feeling like they don’t fit in. Greenwald’s writing mimics the voices of authentic tweens, and middle grade readers are likely to tear through this humorous, entertaining tale about a school project, a famous starlet alumna, and just a hint of romance.
Recommended to fans of contemporary middle grade fiction. If I hadn’t read The Whole Story of Half a Girl right afterward, I probably would have loved this even more. This is frothy fun: totally entertaining, but unlikely to linger long in readers’ minds after they’ve finished.
Reel Life Starring Us by Lisa Greenwald. Amulet Books: 2011. Electronic galley accepted via NetGalley for review.