(SPOILERS! MAJOR SPOILERS! DOESN'T GIVE AWAY ENDING)
I love Andrew Clements, I really do.. But this book.. It hooked me right in at the beginning when it talked about grades. It's really true, parents put a lot of emphasis on grades and want kids to do their best. But I never thought of how expectation could turn into a negative thing, how it could pressure the child in question. I understand how Nora wanted to speak up about all the pressure and that grades just make everyone upset. I understand, but I think teachers and parents want to help the kids, but they just.. went about it the wrong way in this particular school. But getting suspended and getting bad grades on purpose will just upset everybody more. It was pretty confusing and I had a REALLY hard time wrapping my head around this book. This was a little disappointing compared to Frindle.. but still, I liked it. It had light humor and the charm that good realistic fiction almost always has. At some parts it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside and even though it was confusing, and went the wrong way sometimes, it was still a pretty good book.. I just wanted to make that point..
Anyway, Nora Rose Rowley is a fifth-grader, but more importantly, she's a genius. She's kept it a secret all these years.. In kindergarten, she started "copying" kids and what they did, so she would seem more normal, and it's been a habit from kindergarten all the way to fifth grade. She became best friends with Stephen, who she thought was a great friend because he's calm, rarely gets mad, and is very loyal. Anyway, every year Nora and Stephen and everyone takes the standardized tests in their grade, and Stephen gets okay scores. Not horrible, just kind of low. His mom and dad pressure him about it, and really, a lot of parents do that where Nora lives - pressure kids about their grades. Nora noticed the negative effects and she wanted to do something to make all this pressure and all this worry about grades to stop, so she brought home a horrible report card filled with Cs and Ds... But this plan backfired and her parents got so worried about her that they sent her to the school counselor, where he gave her an IQ test. Nora tried to get an "average" score, or a C, on the test, but she wasn't familiar with the test and ended up getting a way higher score than she wanted... But the counselor still wasn't completely sure that Nora was a genius until Nora got into a huge argument with the "smartest" kid in the class about the sun, and she revealed her true genius.. Oops... Now her parents jumped from "worried" to "thrilled and making BIG plans." Nora needs help, and lots of it. She enlists her friend Stephen to start a rebellion of grades.. she's going to rally the whole fifth-grade up to show that grades don't really matter at all.. She's going to convince everyone to get a 0 on their next test! But what if that rebellion goes too far? Suddenly Nora and Stephen wish they hadn't started the whole thing at all.. Read this book to find out what happens!
This book is very jarring, and it's certainly not calm at all.. This is not for readers who like slow-paced books.. Nora is a very wild character who's also a genius, but the rest of the characters are pretty plain and normal, there is nothing much special about them.. I totally get that Nora is dealing with pressure, but everyone in the fifth-grade and probably everyone in school has dealt with pressure before a test or after.. but pressure that motivates you to do better isn't bad.. But if you look past that, there are a pretty determined set of characters who think they can change their whole school system. They're pretty brave to try to do that, actually. And to be honest, I like rebellious, charismatic characters way better than calm, demure ones who always get good grades and are pretty perfect.. This book was really confusing, but it was a good book overall because it had an interesting plot and a determined female protagonist..
~FelicisOwl (a book and encyclopedia lover just like Nora)