Reading Level: Grades 4-8; Lexile level 790L; Accelerated Reader level 5.1
Interest Level: I would say the interest level for this book is Grades 6th and up. There are a couple violent situations (nothing too graphic), some name-calling, and some crude language.
Synopsis: Words hurt. It’s as simple as that, and that idea is presented numerous times throughout this book. Cell phones are banned from the middle school that Frost and his friends attend. In an attempt to continue communicating with others, sticky notes begin appearing on lockers. It starts out fun and pretty meaningless, but very quickly the “bullies” get involved. A new girl named Rose shows up, and she does not look like the other girls. Naturally, being the world of middle school, she gets picked on. The twist is, she does not care. In fact, she tells Frost and them to just drop it. When DeeDee gets picked on though, Rose jumps into mama bear mode! She challenges the bully to a race down the “gauntlet” and comes out victorious!
Personal Reaction: I absolutely love this book. One of the things that was fun at first was the nicknames for the main characters: Bench (who usually sits on the bench for sports teams), Wolf (who is an expert piano player), DeeDee (which is short for D&D [Dungeons & Dragons]), and Frost (who won a poetry contest once). I did not think much of the names until later in the book when Frost realizes that “Bench” may not enjoy being called that (especially after the amazing catch he makes in a football game). All these boys are hesitant when Rose arrives, but Wolf is the first one to invite her to sit at their lunch table. I felt so many emotions reading this book, but one of the most memorable ones would be outrage.
How dare these kids write anonymous sticky notes and just leave them on the locker of their victim? How can they be so cruel?! Especially one of the last ones which is left on Wolf’s locker calling him a “total roman.” This story hints at the fact that one of the characters may be gay, but it’s not in your face fact or anything. Also, Frost has divorced parents, Rose’s mom is depressed and her father works all the time, and Wolf’s parents are constantly fighting. These are very real struggles middle school students face on a daily basis. I love how well Anderson depicts the delicacy of words and the importance of language.
“A sneaker is just a sneaker until LeBron throws his name on it. Then it’s worth a fortune.” – Page 119
“It’s only fifty words or so, but you can do a lot with fifty words. Heck, you can do a lot with just one or two.” – Page 140