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The Year of Secret Assignments (Ashbury/Brookfield Books) Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 2005

Book 2 of 4 in the Ashbury/Brookfield Series

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Series: Ashbury/Brookfield Books
  • Mass Market Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439498821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439498821
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,249,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Popular Aussie writer Jaclyn Moriarty, author of the smash debut, Feeling Sorry for Celia avoids the notorious sophomore slump with this bouncy epistolary follow-up that is brimming with self-confidence and charm. In The Year of Secret Assignments, a tenth grade English teacher attempts to unite feuding schools by launching a pen-pal project. Best friends Cassie, Emily and Lydia initiate the correspondence, and are answered by Matthew, Charlie and Seb. Emily and Lydia are more than pleased with their matches, but quiet Cassie has a frightening experience with Matthew. When Lydia and Emily discover that Matthew has threatened their fragile friend, the Ashbury girls close ranks, declaring an all-out war on the Brookfield boys. Soon, the couples are caught up in everything from car-jacking and lock-picking, to undercover spying and identity theft.

Moriarty’s captivating comedy of manners reads like a breezy 21st century version of Jane Austen--with no end of ridiculous misunderstandings, angst-ridden speeches, and heartfelt make-ups. Female teen fans of Ann Brasheres' The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts will waste no time swapping copies of The Year of Secret Assignments, with all their best buds. (Ages 12 and up) --Jennifer Hubert --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"Once again, Moriarty uses an epistolary format to bring to life the voices of contemporary teens in an Australian private school," said PW, of this tale that contains elements of mystery, romance and revenge. Ages 12-up. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

I'd recommend this book to readers age 12-up.
Girls of many types, especially fans of Ann Brashares' Sisterhood series, will find this an enjoyable read.
Lane Young
The characters were realistic and believable and really made me feel like a part of the story.
Rennie Aranda

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on March 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lots of laughs, plenty of attitude, mystery, and hijinx permeate this book. Three longtime girlfriends in high school--Emily, Lydia, and Cassie--who are connected through parents who went to law school together, are each required to become penpals with guys in a cross-town school with a bad reputation. The story is told primarily through these letters back and forth, along with some journal entries, and a hysterically funny fill-in-the-blanks writing workbook that Lydia's dad has given her.
I'd considered myself pretty waterlogged from the publishers' wave of girl-writes-a-journal books of the past few years, but this is a horse of an entirely different flavor. I'm sure there are some great lessons to be garnered from this book, but, above all, I found it to be a totally delightful read. And the author's background as an attorney is certainly put to good (comedic) use.

At first I wasn't sure what more to say about the book.

But being away for a couple of days up in the middle of the (cold, snowy) Sierras this week, with nothing to do at night, I found myself rereading it like it was comfort food. And it's as good as leftover lasagna the second time around. For one thing, I caught many of those little clues concerning who did what that I'd missed the first time through. But, more importantly, I understood all the Emily-isms that I wasn't clear about on the first go round.

In the same way that non-Americans might find it a bit more difficult to understand the wisdom of Yogi Berra or the rapid-fire dialogue in a Marx Brothers movie, I wasn't sure on the first read exactly what was Emily and what was the English language as it is spoken Down-Under.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Operation Book Purchase
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Nickname: REDR
Number: 0102930291
Experience: Has read a variety of other books, is a member of
This is not a difficult assignment because this book is hilarious, touching, and filled with penpal letters, diary entries, writings in The Notebook (tm), and even court transcipts, complete with adverbial phrases. TYOSA is also from the excellent author of the terrific book Feeling Sorry For Celia, Jaclyn Moriarty. This novel is in fact a companion to said terrific book, and if you have not yet read FSFC, that is your next assignment.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By middle school teacher on August 2, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I definitely enjoyed the clever writing and 3-dimensional characters, but, as a middle school teacher looking for new books to recommend, I have to pass on this one, due to too much profanity and sexual references. The kids will probably find it on their own, through word of mouth references, since it is quite a delightful work (a la the traveling pants books)--- but I can't put it on my recommended list for this age. High school teachers should take a look, though. I enjoyed the story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Spy Groove on October 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have to say that I was touched by the quality of friendship between the girls and the new one between the boys. It was amazing to know what's going on in a teenager's mind abroad. I found myself comparing it with my own and wishing if only our language teacher had asked us to do that kind of penpal project, I would have found myself in the crowd too.

There are some issues gave my some thoughts to ponder on, such as this:

The story brought up the children's privacy issue which was interesting since parents sometimes need to know what's in their children's head if something goes wrong. This point was actually broken by the girls themselves by breaking into the culprit's bedroom which I think is a private area, although they had just declared the their amazing declaration about how fragile and what it meant by someone (teacher) breaking into their private stuff (when they were accused).

I know that the breaking the culprit's private stuff was needed to release the girls and it was very wrong for teacher to just breaking the girls' private stuff when their aledgement was not strongly based (the evidence being that someone had told them was really lame to be used by the Form Mistress, I agree). I guess this comes back to the statement: anyone must have prooved and strong enough reason for breaking other's privacy regardless a child's or a grown up's. So that leaves me to the 'insane' Form Mistress. Why could she ever have that attitude towards her own school's students?

It made the adults in this book (specially the teacher) looked bad, but that problem was balanced by the parents' effort to support their children and also without their parents, they might not be able to go free with their argument. Other than that issue, the progress of the penpal project and Cassie's problem were heart-warming. What a way to see yourself and the world.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Hazel Green on October 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I know that a lot of teenage readers, like myself, are not really into these coming-of-age, growing -up kind of novels. Don't let that deter you from getting your hands on this book though - even I found the characters and plot more engaging then any recent read I can remember.

In a nutshell, this book was about three high-school girls - Cass, Lyd and Em - who find new friends through a penpal project in their English class. Lyd and Em have to use every wit and resource they can to try and scrape out the truth about Cass' mysterious letter-correspondent. Actually, the whole novel is written in letters from the friends to their correspondents or in diary entries.

This is probably one of the many reasons why I loved this book so much, as it brought out the personality of the characters well and the reader felt as if they were actually talking to them. This exchange of witty personalities made me wish that I really knew these people - they would have made great friends.

What really set this book apart from the others, though, was how Jaclyn Moriarty showed a real, honest intention in her writing - mainly, to have fun. Many modern teenage authors try to suck up to an adolescent audience by making their characters stereotypically "cool" - I have read too many corny novels about skateboards, boyfriends and sex. Then they feed in some really cliched moral like "Smoking is bad for you", hoping that highly gullible readers fall for it. Through this novel, Jaclyn not only reassures us that she really understands adolescence, but also reassures us that teenage fiction is not completely lost! I would put her in the same rank as Melina Marchetta (Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca)

(Note: In Australia and NZ this book is called "Finding Cassie Crazy")
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