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Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance, and Cookery.

Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance, and Cookery written by Susan Juby HarperCollins Publishers, 2008 978-0-00-200709-2 (pb) $14.99 for Grades 7 to 11 Senior Fiction--Growing Up

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Ninth grader Sherman Mack loves the ladies even though, for the most part, they are scarcely aware of his existence. It is precisely this fixation that lands Sherm smack in the middle of his high school's most dreaded, and shameful, tradition with the valiant goal of putting an end to it once and for all.

When Sherm's crush, "older woman" Dini Trioli, starts going out with lacrosse star Lester Broadside, Sherm is not only disappointed but also alarmed that she may become the next victim of Harewood Tech's cruel practice of "Defiling" random girls. And what would he do if that ever happened to his friend Vanessa, he wonders. What begins as a crusade to protect one certain girl becomes, for Sherm, a chance to oppose something that he knows is wrong. It is also an opportunity to practice his skills as a private investigator (honed from reading Vanessa's detective novels), to show off his cooking abilities and to hide out in a bedroom closet with the Trophy Wives! With a little help from his friends, Sherm makes some interesting and unsettling discoveries about himself, his fellow students and the realities of modern high school life.

In Sherm, Susan Juby gives us a quirky, affable new character not unlike Alice MacLeod from her earlier books. His slightly offbeat perceptions make him endearing and utterly likeable. The author also manages to maintain a light and humourous tone throughout the book while offering serious food for thought regarding how cruel teens can be to one another, especially when hiding behind the mask of anonymity that a group seems to provide. Slow though he may be on the uptake, Sherm readily recognizes that individually everyone he speaks to despises the custom of "Defiling", but collectively the students, year after year, participate in its continuation. This is an intriguing look at the dynamics of high school as seen through the eyes of one semi-clueless but well-meaning boy whose investigations give readers uncomfortable insights into the whole issue of personal responsibility and accountability.

Lisa Doucet is a bookseller at Woozles and a jury member for the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award.

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Title Annotation:We Recommend
Author:Doucet, Lisa
Publication:Canadian Children's Book News
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2008
Words:390
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