Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen, illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
Welcome to Hollow Ridge High School … that name is probably going to stick with you throughout these pages. Let’s just agree that those hormone-driven years during grades 9-12 are perhaps not the most sincere time during young lives …
If anyone is remotely ‘normal’ at Hollow Ridge, that might be Charlie. His girlfriend Holly dumps him via text in the second panel, his best friend (and next-door neighbor) Nate nearly kills him on the drive home. He comes home to an empty house; dinner is a box of cereal without even any milk. Before you feel toooo sorry for him, Charlie’s still the captain of his basketball team, he’s well-liked and definitely popular, and rather well-adjusted in spite of his missing parents (Dad travels for work, and Mom ran off to San Diego four years ago for good).
Maybe because he’s so easy-going, Charlie isn’t exactly in control of his own life – and literally overnight, he gets stuck in the middle of a raging battle for school funding. Holly and her posse want sexy new cheerleading uniforms; Nate and his nerd buddies are expecting to go to the national robotics competition. Both figure out that whoever wins the class elections will get control of the necessary school dollars, so Nate declares his candidacy while Holly declares … Charlie’s. Yup, the glam girls are going all out to install a puppet president they can control.
When the elections turn into a personal smear campaign, the principle’s had enough: “This is school politics, not U.S. politics.” She’s cutting both sides off! Once the shock dulls, Nate devises a most excellent plan … but both the nerds and the glam girls will actually have to work together, with Charlie again smack back in the middle. Somehow along the way, he’s also got to deal with his estranged parents … especially after he takes his father’s car all the way to Atlanta – without that minor detail of, uh … getting permission!
Debut writer Prudence Shen has high school high jinx all figured out, and found the perfect partner in Faith Erin Hicks (Brain Camp) who knows exactly how teenage faces have a propensity to … uh … over-emote (not to mention politicians-in-training, but that’s a different book!). Hicks’ never-static expressions are absolutely priceless. From dysfunction avoidance at home to Machiavellian machinations at school, Charlie’s going to have to learn a life lesson or two about losing, loyalty, and (of course) love.
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult