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Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials

March 6, 2010

Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman
published by Putman January 12, 2010

Charlie had a miserable eighth grade year, in which she was ruled by her “frenemies,” Ally and Lauren, who proved to be hard core mean girls. Now she has received a slot in a terrific high school in a different district, away from her old classmates. It is a chance for a fresh start, free of all that drama. Little does she know that things are going to get even more complicated — she’s about to be pulled into the lives of boys.

She runs into her old best friend, Will, who has suddenly become gorgeous. On top of that, she meets his friend Tyler, who is even hotter. Will and Tyler are both freshman on the lacrosse team. This sucks them into an whirlwind of hazing by upperclassmen, and Charlie eventually finds herself caught up in it.

Charlie hits the ground running in her new school, writing for the school newspaper, The Prowler, and connecting with her new friends Sydney, Nidhi, and Michael. One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the interesting, likable cast of supporting characters. I also liked the friendship between Charlie and Sydney. It had the light-hearted fun, intensity and occasional outright bitchiness of friendships between teen girls. Ah, how well I remember.

Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials is about budding friendships, dating, and the tangled web of high school dramas. Rosalind Wiseman created Harmony Falls High School with careful attention to detail, so it feels vividly real. While I didn’t find the depth to Charlie’s character that I felt with the protagonists of other YA novels I have read, I did enjoy watching her grow from a girl who was afraid to stand up to her so-called friends to a strong young woman who is loyal to the people she cares about, is unafraid to speak her mind, and follows her conscience.

I think this is an enjoyable novel for middle- and high-school students and other aficionados of YA fiction.

I borrowed this ARC from Around the World Tours.

Read More Reviews: Abby the Librarian; La Femme Readers; Once Upon a Book Blog; Stacked; The Undercover Book Lover (Not Really)

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