Book Review: The Hot List
By: Hillary Homzie
Published By: Aladdin Mix
Release Date: March 2011
Buy it at Amazon
Source: Nikki Katz
Audience: Middle Grades
The Hot List is a perfect summer read for middle grades readers and upper elementary readers. The book is free of older teen situations and language. As a middle school teacher, I wish more books were out there like this for me to recommend to my students. Middle school kids are at that odd stage of life where they aren't really babies anymore but they aren't always ready to tackle some of the serious issues raised in YA literature. Finding good Middle Grades reads can often be a challenge. Hillary Homzie is doing her part to help fill this need. Homzie is a strong writer who creates likable, realistic characters and a relevant plot.
Middle school is a rough time for so many adolescents. I can remember my middle school days being full of friendship drama, stress over classes, crushes, and trying to find my niche. The Hot List brings all of those issues to light as we get to see the story through the eyes of seventh grader, Sophie. Sophie also has it a little rougher than many students since her Dad is her principal and he happens to be dating her math teacher. To make matters worse, Nia, the daughter of the math teacher, is the Queen Bee who seems intent on making Sophie miserable.
I love how Homzie was able to bring these characters and story alive. She stayed true to what these experiences would feel like to a middle grades kid while showing that while middle school is a period of major transitions for us all - that in the end - everything will work out okay. Kids often get so wrapped up in the moment that they often don't have the foresight to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I also loved how this book takes a really in depth look at the elements that go into a friendship. Girls, in particular, often let various issues and drama separate them from each other. I can remember so many instances of that happening in my own life. I truly related to Sophie; I felt a lot like her as a 7th grader. I wish books like this one had existed for me back then. It would have been nice to know that others - even fictional characters - could understand my emotions and thoughts. Finally, I love that this book could be the start of some great conversations between teachers and students as well as parents and tweens.
One Last Gripe: I hope there is a sequel because I don't feel like the issues between Sophie and Nia have been totally resolved. I feel like there is more story there.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved watching Sophie learn more about herself and mature throughout the story.
First Sentence: Maddie and I came up with the Hot List one morning after a sleepover at my house.
Favorite Character: Sophie
Least Favorite Character: Nia
It all starts as a goof between Sophie Fanuchi and her BFF Maddie Chen–a “Hot List” the two girls create and anonymously post in the girls’ locker room listing the cutest boys at Travis Middle School. Soon enough the list has taken on a life of its own. Maddie’s thrilled to be caught up in all the excitement and finally hanging out with the “pops,” Travis Middle School’s self-proclaimed It Girls. Sophie, however, misses just having secrets between herself and Maddie. Even worse, Maddie’s suddenly super tight with Brenna Tate, leader of the pops and the daughter of Sophie’s father’s new girlfriend. As Sophie and Maddie’s friendship unravels, Sophie latches onto an impulsive bet with Brenna to get the universe right again–Sophie declares she’ll prove the list is meaningless by making over their wacky classmate Squid so that he can land on the Hot List. But will any bet or list matter more than Sophie’s friendships . . .?