School Library Journal
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Gr 9 Up-"Yeah, I'm a little bitter because I'm one of those kids: bottom of the food chain, constantly teased, despised, an annoyance to everyone around them.." Carson Phillips just doesn't fit in at his small-town high school. Making matters worse, his home life isn't much better. Despite having a pill-popping mother, a father who abandoned the family, and a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer's, he dreams of going to Northwestern University and becoming a big name in the world of journalism. When a flaky guidance counselor informs him that his work as the president of the Writers' Club may not be enough to impress Northwestern, the teen quickly sets out to boost his application by publishing a literary magazine. The only problem is convincing a school full of students who dislike him to submit their work. The ever-determined Carson soon finds a solution.he blackmails individuals from different social groups into contributing. In the process, he begins to understand them as human beings. His efforts pay off. Unfortunately, his mother throws away his acceptance letter from Northwestern, and he doesn't discover that he was admitted until the deadline to respond has long passed. Just as he accepts his fate and convinces himself that attending community college won't be so bad, the story ends abruptly and tragically. Carson's perseverance and ambition cast him as a prickly but likable character (if readers can relate to his foul-mouthed sarcasm), and his wit and humor make this a fast and engaging read.-Nicole Knott, Watertown High School, CT (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.