Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Hundred Percent

Hundred Percent

Fall 2016 Fiction
Ages: 9 - 12 yrs.
Author: Karen Romano Young
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN: 9781452138909
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Tink is starting sixth grade with a new name to go with her new height and new bras. Unfortunately, this new name isn't her idea-it's her best friend Jackie's, and it is also Jackie's idea that the new name should be attached to a new, cool persona for Tink. From the first day of school on, it becomes apparent to Tink that a few select sixth graders have formed an invisible circle of coolness, and that Tink is not part of that circle. At least, she is only part of the circle when Jackie drags her in. Tink doesn't seem to be very good at having a new persona, but Jackie is, and Tink isn't sure how well she likes it. As the months pass, and their friendship begins to fray, Tink wonders who else in the sixth grade could be as good a friend to her as Jackie has been. More and more, the class clown Bushwhack, with his clever jokes, his greasy hair and ill-fitting clothes, and his unexpected kindnesses, proves himself to be an ally as Tink navigates the hidden social currents of the sixth grade.

Hundred Percent is a beautifully sympathetic story about the first horrible discovery of coolness. Tink is a smart, perceptive narrator who guides the reader through her mishaps and her subsequent epiphanies with grace. She makes mistakes, and then analyzes them with integrity. Her observations about her classmates ask readers to ponder issues of gender inequality and class inequality; we watch Jackie being punished for not only her own budding sexuality, but also her mother's adult dating behaviors, and we see how boys like Bushwhack are left out of the cool crowd. Young's new novel is not a plotty page-turner, but it is a compelling read about issues of popularity, friendship, and identity.

Naomi Lesley   ©2016 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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