From School Library Journal
Grade 5–7—In the form of a diary addressed to her recently deceased cat, Mud, and any future biographers wishing to write about her, Lorelei Lee Connelly, 11, chronicles her life as a sixth grader at a private school in Washington, DC, and as the middle child and only girl in a family in crisis. Trying out for the part of Wendy in the school's production of Peter Pan
; navigating relationships with schoolmates, including moody best friend Jennifer, bully Matt, dreamboat Bo, and outcast Saylor; and grappling with the confusion and fear surrounding her parents' disintegrating marriage, Lorelei gives spirited accounts of her days. Thanks to the insight of Mr. Blair, a teacher who recognizes her comic talent, she lands the part of Tiger Lily (to the disappointment of her self-absorbed mother, who played Wendy at Princeton) and throws herself into preparation for the play. Lorelei's dramatic and social success can't alleviate the feeling of rejection when her mother barely notices her achievements, and of disillusionment with her father when he decides to move to Massachusetts with his girlfriend, but the wisdom of Mr. Blair, her love for her brothers, and her indomitable spirit carry her through. The complexity of human behavior, nuanced character development (even in minor characters), and, above all, Lorelei's authentic and endearing voice provide a richly layered reading experience. This funny, poignant story of self-centered parents and appealing, resilient children is a winner.—Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
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Best known as the voice of Lisa Simpson, Emmy-winning Smith introduces a similarly smart, old soul young girl named Lorelei (another L name). Our 11-year-old heroine keeps a diary to make it easier on future biographers, as she will be a famous actress, chef, or author someday. Each diary entry is addressed to her beloved late cat, Mud. She documents dismal school-musical rehearsals; run-ins with her best frenemy Jenny; and her button-cute crush on the very charming Bo. But that all fades to the background when Lorelei’s family begins to dissolve. Although signs of the impending divorce may be glaring to the reader—Dad hasn’t been home for dinner in weeks, and Mom is far more preoccupied with Lorelei getting the lead in the musical—the final fallout is still heartbreaking for Lorelei and her audience. Recommend this read to tweens dealing with similar circumstances or those who are finally ready to see their parents as the flawed individuals they really are. Grades 5-8. --Courtney Jones