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Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything Paperback – November 13, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–Gretchen Yee, 16, feels painfully ordinary in a school where everyone is an overachiever. Teachers at The Manhattan School for Art and Music dont appreciate her artistic skill, and she feels like she doesnt fit in with the students. She longs to understand what others think of her, and her wish to be a fly on the wall of the boys locker room comes true. She spends a week there observing her classmates, learning and seeing more than she ever expected. In addition to humorously discovering the mysteries of male anatomy, the teen sees the casual cruelty of her ex-boyfriend, and that her best friend sacrifices her own happiness to keep from upsetting her. She also discovers that there are boys who like her and some who are hiding painful secrets. With this knowledge, Gretchen gains confidence, which ultimately allows her to be a better person. When the insect character emerges, Lockharts writing style moves from prose to near poetry as she weaves in and out of Gretchens mind. This technique allows readers to know what the protagonist is thinking, keeps the pace of the quickly moving story, and suspends disbelief with the very absurd concept. Although containing some strong language and mature situations, this novel is a good choice for teens who are unsure of their place in the world, including reluctant readers.–Stephanie L. Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library, Odenton, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Praise for fly on the wall:
“I think this might be the best YA novel…I’ve ever read. It’s hilarious, and it’s so very smart. I mean, I’m serious…It’s really amazing.”—John Green, author of the New York Times bestseller The Fault in Our Stars
“A super-smart, super-sweet, and super-fantastic read.”—Sarah Mlynowski, author of Don’t Even Think About It
“With an appropriate nod and wink to Kafka, this unexpectedly sharp comedy charts its own metamorphosis.”—The Horn Book Magazine
“Fast-paced, hysterically funny, and a pleasure to read.”—
“Fine fun for fans of both Kafka and Spider-Man.”—Kirkus Reviews

IRA Young Adult Book Choice

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; Reprint edition (November 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385732821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385732826
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #800,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I write novels.
My books: We Were Liars, Fly on the Wall, The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, Dramarama, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, How to Be Bad,The Treasure Map of Boys and Real Live Boyfriends.

Visit me at
Or come read the blog at
Twitter: elockhart
Pinterest: elockhartbooks

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on April 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Sixteen-year old Gretchen Yee is a pretty typical teenager. Sort of. She attends the Manhattan High School for the Arts, otherwise known as Ma-Ha. There, she gets to take not only the normal, everyday classes of Literature and PE, but also Drawing and Sculpture. Gretchen is a great artist, and she's especially partial to the comic-book style of drawing. Not to mention that her personal hero is Spiderman. She has a best friend name Katya, who now seems to spend all her time either hanging out with the poseurs behind the school, smoking cigarettes, or babysitting her three younger sisters.

When it comes to the opposite sex, though, Gretchen has no idea what she's doing. Actually, she doesn't even know what they're doing half the time. Her parents are in the throes of a divorce, she has no close male friends, and her kind-of ex-boyfriend, Shane, now spends most of his time acting like an idiot. How can she ever know what goes on inside a guy's head when they act like such total morons most of the time?

After casually mentioning one day after school that she wished she could be a fly on the wall in the boy's locker room, something really, really strange happens. Gretchen wakes up the next morning as, you guessed it, a fly on the wall of the boy's locker room. Never mind the fact that she can't wrap her mind (her own mind, thank goodness, not a fly mind) around what's happened, now she spends several hours every day seeing high-school guys get naked! In front of her! Without clothes! And she can't close her eyes because her fly-body has no eyelids!

Needless to say, the things Gretchen sees and hears inside the boy's locker room at Ma-Ha are (ha!ha!) eye-opening, to say the least.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on June 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am a huge fan of E. Lockharts, but I have to admit, at first I couldn't quite get into this book. Maybe because of its artsy-ish tone - the heroine Gretchen Yee is a student at the Manhattan Art School, so everything about her (and for that matter everybody in the school) is art orientated and I can't quite identify with imaginative and artistic types. Maybe because of a bizarre twist in the middle, when the story becomes somewhat fantasy-like - Gretchen finds that her wish of becoming a fly on the wall a boys locker room, quite literally comes true.

However the story really takes off (at least in my opinion) when we start learning about the world of male relationships, insecurities, secrets - the world which is a mystery to me up to this day. From then on the book is very hard to put down.

The major themes of all Lockhart's creations - facing difficulties instead of hiding from them, taking charge of ones life, and women empowerment - are very present in this book and delivered very well.

Another great book by E. Lockhart. Not the best written by her, but still worth your attention.

P.S. For those parents who monitor their kids' reading, this book has some mature content - male "attributes" are discussed quite openly, but without being inappropriate in my opinion.
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Format: Hardcover
For Gretchen Yee life as an artificial redhead is anything but glamorous. A student at the Manhattan High School for the Arts (New Yorkers think: La Guardia) with girls wearing unitards or saris and cliques like the Art Rats, Gretchen feels too ordinary to belong. She stands out not because she's special or unique but because she's ordinary save for her stop-sign-red hair.

Gretchen is also lonely and confused. Her best friend is more and more distant and the boys at her school-like her crush the fantastically amazing and artistic and offbeat Titus? Well, they don't make any sense either.

Then Gretchen makes an idle wish to spend one week as a fly on the wall of the boy's locker room not expecting much to change.* But sometimes, wishes don't like to stay idle. Sometimes they like to come true.

Life as a vermin isn't much more glamorous than life as an artificial redhead. But it's certainly more informative. Gretchen gets to observe the boys as they come and go for each gym class. Lower classmen, acquaintances, friends, and even her crush, are all available to scrutinize. Instead of just learning, as she had expected, about what the boys really look like under those baggy jeans and t-shirts and what they really think and say behind closed doors-Gretchen also gets a chance to find out how she fits into the school.

When the week is over Gretchen might have even learned enough to live life not as an artificial redhead or a vermin but as a superhero.

I like Gretchen a lot as a character. She is also a comic book fan which almost always makes a character fun to read about. Excuse the pun, but after being a fly, Gretchen's metamorphosis from insecure to empowered girl really starts.

At times Lockhart's language seemed a little . . . unique.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Padilla on November 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I liked this book very much and while it wasn't my favorite by her, I still liked it.
It teaches us that appearances can be deceiving and that we should be more understanding of others. Also that the way other people see us is not the same as the way we see ourselves.
I am a teenager and I completely disagree with the parents who say this book is "pornographic". Trust me, if your kid goes to high school, he/ she already knows way more than you think.
Anyway, I recommend reading this book by E. but also the rest of her books because they are even better.
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