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My Ultimate Sister Disaster by Jane Mendle

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Cover art: My Ultimate Sister Disaster Reviewer: Robyn Roberts
Title: My Ultimate Sister Disaster
Author: Jane Mendle
Publisher: Griffin (St. Martins)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-36904-0
Release Date: June 2010
Genre/Sub-genre: YA Fiction
Publisher’s Age/Grade Recommendation: 12 and up
OUAR’s Age/Grade Recommendation: 12 and up
Year/Setting: Present day, New York City
Overall Rating: 4.0
Sexual Content Rating: None
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None
Violent Content Rating: None
Jane's Website/Blog: us.macmillan.com/author/janemendle


Fourteen-year-old Franny is having a rough year and is seriously looking into the idea of a family transplant. Maybe she could pick a better family and have a better life. Her mother is in Africa getting her anthropology career back on track. She’s so in love with studying the family culture there that her daughters feel abandoned at home. Franny’s dad owns a boutique and spends more time at the office than he does at home. If Franny wants to speak to him, she’s better off sending him an email than trying to get face-to-face time. Then there’s her sister—the perfect Zooey, a prima ballerina. Zooey got all the looks, talent and even goes to school at the top ballet conservatory in town. Franny has to navigate the halls of prep school alone. She’s trying to get noticed by the editor of the school newspaper (and not just for her journalism skills), but as a freshman (or first-year), she’s only given grunt work to do.

When Zooey breaks her leg and is forced to quit dancing while it heals, she has nothing better to do than worm her way into Franny’s “normal” life. She’s taking off with Franny’s friends and she enchants the whole prep school. Franny begins to wonder if her sister is really her worst enemy. And when the boy of Franny’s dreams notices Zooey, it’s not going to be long until World War III erupts. Will Zooey and Franny work out their differences, can they get through to their parents…or will they quietly kill each other at home?

Jane Mendle has given us a wonderful book dealing with some hefty themes. She works through sibling rivalry, the injustice of high school and dealing with parents when you are a teen with such grace that as a reader, you don’t realize at first how true to life the story is. I was impressed with the way so much teen angst is worked into the story without it becoming just another story about teen angst. The elements are there, but are not the primary focus so the story is fresh and alive.

I also liked the fact that Franny had morals and wasn’t trying to become sexually active. She has a crush and wants to date him, but there is none of the sexual awareness or tension that is in other books. It seemed a lot more true to life because I don’t think every teenage girl is after sex. She reminded me of my own freshman year and the trials and tribulations that came with being a freshman. As an adult, I enjoyed reading about Franny and her first-year troubles…but I think a pre-teen or early teen would relate even more than I did to the struggles Franny faces. Overall, this is an excellent read and would be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Robyn

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