Sarah's Stars

Gennifer Choldenko. If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
Harcourt  $19.95  ISBN 978-0-15-205753-4  224 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 13

"Mr. Balderis," Brianna waves her hand back and forth. "Excuse me, Mr. Balderis." Wavey-poo, wavey-poo. "I know who did it. It was that girl, Kristen. Rory and I saw her."

I choke on my own spit. "Wh-what?"

Kristen and Walker "Walk" are two very different people but when they meet on the very first day of seventh grade, their worlds begin to collide. Kristen is rich and white. Her summer ended terribly and fall is shaping up to be horrible too. Her parents can't stop fighting, her best friend Rory has joined the dark side and can be seen fraternizing with the evil queen bee, Brianna, whose stinger is oh-so-sharp. Thanks to all the stress, she's 30 pounds heavier.

Meanwhile, Walker's trying to survive; the new private school is full of white kids. He's on scholarship and his skin is a chocolaty-brown, but when Kristen discovers a shocking secret, the two discover that perhaps they aren't actually all that different after all...

This charming story alternates between Kristen's point of view and a third-person view from Walk's side of the story, which makes for a refreshing variety for each chapter. The story manages to cover some serious issues like racism, friendship and family but it doesn't get depressing or deep. It's a perfect novel for middle school readers from ages 10-14. It's quick, interesting, poignant and funny.

I think If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period deserves the full five stars!


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