Firecracker by David Iserson

“If nothing changed, I wouldn’t be writing this down because this is a book about the time when everything changed. And isn’t that what every book is about? No, seriously, isn’t it? I don’t know. I don’t read books.” Astrid Krieger may not read books, but that’s not going to stop her from writing one in which she tells her side of the story–about how it all went wrong. How her life of power and fear-mongering at her fancy boarding school was going great…until she was expelled for cheating. Until she had to move back home and live in her dad’s rocket ship proto-type in the backyard. Until her parents made her go to (ugh) public school. Now Astrid’s on a mission to discover who fingered her for cheating (which she freely admits to doing, but that’s not the point, is it?) and get her bad ass self back into private school. There’s only one problem, and his name is Dean Rein. The Dean of Students at Bristol Academy thinks Astrid needs to learn to help someone other than herself. So he makes a deal with her that if she can do three good, no GREAT deeds, he’ll consider letting her back in. Being kind to others isn’t something that comes naturally to Astrid, but with the help of new boy Noah and the memory of her little brother Fritz (the last person she really loved) she’ll try. But probably not too hard. While this sardonic, subversive novel was occasionally too clever by half and I didn’t quite believe Astrid’s teenage voice (which often sounded more like cynical, thirty-five-year old, college-educated black jack dealer–which, don’t get me wrong, is still funny, just not as realistic) Astrid’s misanthropic observations about life and relationships did give me a case of the knowing chuckles.

On friendship: “Accomplices are like friends, only they don’t care about you…No one is ever trying to take your friends away, so that’s how you know they’re less important.”

On her mother: “Vivi spends four weeks every year going “skiing,” and she returns at least four years younger. If she is not getting plastic surgery, she is surely a vampire.”

On public school fashion: “I had never owned a pair of jeans, and I didn’t plan on it. I am not a cowboy, a farmer or a 1950’s greaser. I just really don’t get it.”

On birthday parties: “I’d never been invited to a birthday party before, at least never to one that didn’t end with a Brunei prince shooting an endangered condor with a gold revolver off the side of a 450-foot-yacht.”

A perfect book for those times when you feel like you’d like to give the world a wedgie. Or when you feel like the world has given YOU a wedgie.

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