Ellsmere is an elite all-girls private school with a reputation for turning out top-notch candidates for ivy-league schools. Juniper comes to Ellsmere by way of scholarship, where she meets Cassie, her assigned roommate. Cassie and Jun become fast friends. While trying to keep her grades up and compete with others, Juniper and Cassie have several run ins with a bully, Emily, who looks down on Jun for not being elite enough to get in by way of her family heritage. Emily ensnares Jun in a devious plots to get her expelled.
This story has the typical bully you want to hate, and Hicks writes her so well. The frustration and hatred is akin to what Harry Potter fans feel towards Umbridge. Cassie is awesome and I see myself in her in wanting to write about beautiful and fantastical things, rather than that Shakespeare essay they're supposed to be doing. Jun is a cool main character with a lot of confidence and great comebacks for the bully type, especially ones that convey to Emily just how much she doesn't care about other people's opinions. We can all learn a thing or two from her about valuing our own opinions of ourselves over others. I thought this was a cute story with some really sympathetic characters. I'm not sure if there are more volumes planned, but there were some unfinished plot points that could use another volume or two. As always, Hicks' art style is beautiful, and it fully captures this story of adventure at a mansion-turned-girls-school.
First Second rates this book as middle grade for ages 10-14. Even though this story is about girls in high school, I think the content surrounding the bully and the drive that Jun has to go to a good college are themes that resonate well with middle school audiences.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 7-10
This review was made possible with an advanced reader copy from the publisher through Net Galley.
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Graphic Literature, Realistic Fiction, School Age
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