Joe Cottonwood has done something very interesting with this book. He takes us inside a wealthy suburban middle school (Menlo Park is a rather well-to-do part of the San Francisco Bay Area) and shows us the kids who don't fit in. Bowie's the troubled African-American kid, Jaz is the Asian girl who is sick of the stereotypes to which she's subjected, Hoot is the kid with the hippie mom, and Mimi is the popular girl with more secrets than she knows what to do with.
Each kid has his or her own sub-plot to deal with, and resolving each story arc took a lot of finesse. Cottonwood shows us the underbelly of what some youth experience: bullying, exploitation, violence, and more. While the ending is ultimately satisfying, the journey is not an easy one. I found myself remembering incidents from my own junior high days and sympathizing with the various characters as they try to deal with changing bodies and attitudes.