Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Number of Pages: 288
Published: November 29, 2016
Source: Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Opening Lines: "The bracelet and the first charm appeared the day I punched Austin Jackson in the nose. I didn't mean to slug him. His face just got in my way."
Izzy Malone is having a rocky start to middle-school, she and the guidance counselor are already on a first name basis. Where Izzy see's herself as outspoken and just speaking her mind, other's see her as mouthy. Probably part of the reason that she has difficulty making friends and eats her school lunches under a tree. Izzy is also not the kind of girl to get caught up in the latest fashion styles, preferring her combat boots and long colorful skirts. Forget dreaming about boys, she's more concerned about getting accepted on the Dandelion Paddlers, a local rowing team. She's already tried out once, but the team captain seems to have it out for her. Izzy's home life has also been complicated by having a musical prodigy sister, the fact her mother is running for mayor and her dad is even the town's chief of police. When Izzy punches a boy at school, her parents take drastic measures and enroll her in Mrs. Whippie's home study charm school. Either Izzy passes charm school or she won't be participating in Dandelion Hollow's Pumpkin Palooza, a race where pumpkins are hollowed out and used as boats across the pond. If she can't participate in the race, how will she ever convince Lauren and the Paddlers that she is good enough for the team?
I read The Charming Life of Izzy Malone over the Thanksgiving long weekend and this was such a fun entertaining story. Izzy really isn't a typical middle schooler, but that was what I really loved about her. She has this attitude of not caring and a style and interests uniquely her own (rowing and stargazing). Yeah, she is mouthy and outspoken, which gets her in trouble, but she is also brutally honest.
"I have certainly heard of the Subtle Art of Shutting Up, but I can't say I've practiced it all that much. I greatly prefer the underappreciated genius of Speaking My Mind. I figure if someone doesn't like what I have to say, they shouldn't put their ears in close proximity to my mouth."
Izzy struck me as a somewhat lonely girl at first, but her affectionate wit and well charm land her friends that help her complete each task for her charm bracelet. Lunquist really has a knack for capturing that middle-grade voice and it so reminded me of my own awkward moments growing up, truthfully I'm a bit of tomboy too. I really liked the idea of the letters going back and forth between Mrs. Whippie and Izzy and the activities were simple enough that I could see this as a fun book to read with a child and have them do some of the activities to create their own charm bracelet (write a letter to brightens someone's day, do something nice for someone, etc.). Overall, a humorous story with lovely messages of friendship, and being yourself. I hope to see more stories from Lundquist featuring Izzy and her friends.
You can read an excerpt from Jenny Lundquist's website.