by Kevin Emerson. (Levine/Scholastic, 2008. ISBN 9780439935258. Order Info.) Novel. 291 pages. Grades 5-9.
Trina is in seventh grade and she and a small circle of friends have a problem. Carlos is driving them crazy. He talks in a weird voice and scratches himself incessantly. When he gets on their nerves their responses end up getting them in trouble. They resent that he never gets in trouble because he is a special needs student.
Trina and her friends hatch a plan to teach Carlos a lesson once and for all. In the meantime Trina has to work with Carlos on a science project and finds she cares about him once she understands him better.
As the execution of the plan nears Trina is torn between not wanting to stand up to her friends, concern about Carlos and her own anger at him.
The dynamics between the students ring true and the issues of bullying, special needs, compassion and guilt are honestly laid out. This is a gripping story about everyday middle school dramas and one individual's reactions.
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