From School Library Journal
Grade 7–10—Fifteen-year-old Kendra, an only child, has grown up in a sterile and highly controlled Manhattan household. As she sees it, her distant parents, both bankers, are simply grooming her to assume their overprogrammed urban lifestyle. Frustrated, she enters and wins an essay contest that qualifies her to be a costar on a reality show, The Black Sheep, in which she changes places with a West Coast girl from a completely different type of family. The Mulligan household consists of a pair of aging hippies and their six children, one of whom is an attractive boy with a passion for saving threatened sea otters—a cause that Kendra quickly adopts. She discovers that it is difficult to be an amorous activist—and nearly impossible to find your true self—when you're being tailed 24/7 by a camera crew and a pushy producer. Light, predictable, happy-ending fare without much fizz.—Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI
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Fifteen-year-old Kendra Bishop is so fed up with her boring, New York banker parents and their desire to turn her into a mini version of themselves that she writes away to the reality show The Black Sheep in hopes of trading her life with some other unhappy teen. Kendra is shipped off to Monterey to live with a hippie family devoted to saving otters, while their daughter, Maya, gets to live the cultured life she has always craved in Manhattan. A culture clash ensues, pushed to the max by the ominipresent producer, Judy, who is in charge of making sure there is drama (and if there isn't, she edits the footage). The story drags when it's about the otters, for whom Kendra develops a deep affinity. It picks up when Kendra and Maya's brother, Mitch, get together, break apart, and get together. This is all hilariously over the top (though it's unfortunate that Judy, the pushy producer, has a Jewish last name). The authors have the reality-show shenanigans down pat, and there are some sharp takeoffs of folks like Dr. Phil. Au courant. Cooper, Ilene
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