CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 14. . . .March 6, 2009
Popular and stylish, Lizzie Lane is sure of her place in the middle school social order: she's at the top. But in the world of adolescent intrigues, one act of pettiness is all it takes to shake Lizzie from that position. Her unkindness towards another girl, Rachel, rebounds with Rachel's revenge, which leads to Lizzie's being called a liar and a cheater. The fallout is more than just earning a week of detention in a smelly, airless room; Lizzie is ostracized by her former friends. With the collapse of her social life, Lizzie finds herself talking with Stella, the weird new girl. Lizzie recognizes this as social suicide, but Stella's belief in magick intrigues her, for all the wrong reasons: Lizzie has revenge against Rachel in mind. Throughout the course of the story, Stella helps Lizzie out of her rut by teaching her about the nature and the possibilities of magick. (A note on the spelling: the 'k' distinguishes Denman's reference to natural, earth-centred magick from magic tricks.)
Geared at reluctant readers, Perfect Revenge is full of makeup, zits, crushes, Facebook, and fashion, with the constant jockeying for position in the social hierarchy of middle school taking the novel's forefront. But Denman has constructed more than a light-hearted diversion for readers. There is a literary sophistication to her story that will introduce readers to elements such as foreshadowing and metaphor. While the eyeshadow-palate-as-representative-of-social-spheres analogy tries too hard to appeal to a teen mentality, Denman is in control of her narrative. Lizzie's voice is consistent, and her gradual self-awareness is authentic and original: she is a wilfully clueless, unlikeable character with an overdeveloped sense of self-esteem, which makes the first-person narration interesting. Secondary characters such as Baba, who is kind and wise without being too clichéd or saccharine, are well developed, especially considering the short length of the story.
Janet Grafton is a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Children's Literature program at the University of British Columbia.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.