Leader of the Clique: The Clique Series by Lisi Harrison
Bound in neo-Preppy plaid covers, these little books are ah-mazingly found on the New York Times best sellers' list. Inquiring minds want to know why, so I've sample the series, and here are some thoughts about The Clique, by Lisi Harrison.
"Uneasy lies the bod that wears the Prada" describes Massie Block, seventh-grade alpha female of a clique which call themselves "The Pretty Committee." Among the well-off and self-obsessed students at Octavian Day School, a milieu closely circumscribed by the Westchester Mall, various resort spas, and the Briarwood boys' soccer field, Massie is the trend leader, even posting what's in and what's out daily on her blog.
Massie and her followers are some tough rich chicks who are continually struggling for standing in the clique while spouting "Gawd," "Ew!" "ah-mazing," "ehmagod" and IM-ing each other constantly. Massie is undeniably beautiful, possessed of so many clothes that one "friend" jokes that her mega-McMansion is built on a landfill of her worn-once and off-cast designer clothes, so rich that she has several life-size Massie mannikins to try out ensembles without mussing her hair, and so pampered that she has her own personal driver. Notwithstanding all that, she is insecure in her position and cruelly cuts off any possible competitor as easily as she obsessively glosses her lips with the Glossip Girl flavor de jour. This crew makes the girls in the Sweet Valley High series look like a bunch of convent novices.
In the first book Massie is forced to deal with Claire Lyons, the seventh-grade daughter of her father's old school chum who moves into the Block's carriage house "temporarily." Massie's parents, Kendra and William, expect Massie to introduce poor sweet Claire into the Octavian Day School crowd, but Massie and her committee humiliate Claire by deriding her so-not-in Keds and splashing red paint in a suggestive location on her beloved white jeans. Claire, however, has her own strengths, including really cute looks and platinum blonde hair, is endowed with a certain ability to attract the Briarwood boys, and gradually works her way into the clique as a permanent (as permanent as anyone in this tenuous group) member of the charmed circle of ODS.
In fact, by the fourth book in the series, Invasion of the Boy Snatchers, "Kuh-laire" teams with Alicia Rivera, the chief rival for Massie's position, to bring Alicia's slutty, catty Spanish cousin Nina literally to her knees. Nina knows how to flaunt her impressive front and wins over The Clique's chosen Briarwood boys, and, Gawd, Massie realizes that in Nina, she has more than met her match. Luckily, Nina has one flaw--she is a incorrigible thief--and the Pretty Committee becomes the Pretty Covertives to unmask Nina's fatal failing publicly at the Valentine's Love Struck Dance. Although Massie and her sometime boyfriend Derrington don't get to share the Cupid Award, the clique members and their Briarwood guys do (almost) share their first kisses.
Why would early teens want to read about a social scene so mean that it would make any intelligent girl want to repeat sixth grade? After all, the publisher's cut line for The Clique series is "The only thing harder than getting in is staying in." Well, the series may have a couple of socially redeeming virtues:
1) Known thine enemy. Harrison does nail the worst characteristics of the mean teen scene spot on! Those people are out there, even in seventh grade, and it's good to know one when you see one.
2) It's probably a parody. Harrison skewers stereotypical rich brat teens expertly and makes sport of their plumage and habitat, manipulating them just as they manipulate each other. For those readers sophisticated enough to pick up on the parody, it's probably cathartic. For those who don't or can't, well, Gawd bless their little Juicy Coutured backsides.
Other wittily titled books in this series include Best Friends for Never (#2), Revenge of the Wannabes, (#3), The Pretty Committee Strikes Back (#5), Dial L for Loser (#6), It's Not Easy Being Mean (#7), and the latest but probably not the last, Sealed with a Diss.
Labels: Adolescence (Grades 6-8)