Making It in Middle School: The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney by Lauren Barnholdt
Okay. This is not that big of a deal.
I'm standing by my locker at school the next morning, thinking about how people have figured out problems way worse than this one. Like the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example. The country was on the brink of a nuclear disaster, and it all worked out. So there is definitely a solution to the ridiculousness that is now known as my life.
I just have to figure out what it is.
Devon Delaney had never told a lie worse than calling her grandmother's spaghetti sauce is the best in the world. But then, shipped off to spend the summer with Grandma while her parents patch up their relationship, Devon meets Alexis, a girl her age who is both pretty and very socially gifted, a natural "popular" type who looks, talks, and acts the part. "Lexi" takes Devon under her wing, and the bland, under-the-radar Devon morphs into Devi, who learns to dress, walk, and talk "cute." Devon even cooks up a "second life" for herself back home as a member of the A-List crowd and girlfriend of the hottest guy in her class, Jared Bentley. No harm done, Devon reasons; when summer is over she'll never see Lexi again, and Devi's fictitious life back home is just a harmless fib to make her feel more comfortable around the socially adept Lexi.
But as Devon's mom has always said, "Karma always comes around to get you," and when Lexi appears one morning as a transfer student in her morning math class, Devon realizes that her bad karma has come around to sit right across the aisle from her. Devon struggles to come up with a believable cover story to conceal the fact that she's basically a nobody to whom Jared Bentley has never even spoken. Luckily, her best friend Mel agrees to go along with the explanation which Devon blurts out to cover her so-called boyfriend's indifference. She tells Lexi that Mel has a tremendous crush on Jared, and to save her feelings, she and Jared are keeping their status secret from everyone. However, Lexi's social skills earn her a seat at the A-List cafeteria table from the first day, and as Lexi's friend, Devi finds herself unwillingly drawn into the social whirl of the popular crowd and forced to come up with ever more complex fabrications to cover up her lies.
On the up side, Devon-as-Devi finds that, with a little tweaking of wardrobe and coiffure and the use of her "Devi voice," she fits right in with the in-crowd. Feeling guilty that she is neglecting her friendship with the loyal Mel and keeping her well-meaning mom in the dark, Devi nevertheless enjoys the mall crawls, with arcade games, shopping sprees, and spa haircuts. She is also surprised by the polite attentions of Luke, who seems to be enjoying working with her on their social studies project way too much!
But Mr. Karma draws closer every day, and eventually Devon's lies are found out by Kim, one of the A-List girls who is jealous of her success with Luke and spreads the whole story around gleefully. Suddenly, Devi is off the A-List and on the Black List with everyone. Devon wonders if it's too late to tell everyone the truth and retain the friendship of even her BFF Mel.
Lauren Barnholdt's The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney is the first-person account of her sympathetic main character Devon Delaney, who despite her heedless lies, remains honest with herself as she works her way through this moral dilemma. Although the story is a light, humorous trip through the trials and tribulations of the seventh-grade social scene, with supporting characters whom middle readers will recognize instantly, the theme makes clear that Devon is not the only victim of the "tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive" and that honesty and trust are still the first requirements of friendship.