Review: Access Denied

Posted on June 5, 2009

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Access Denied (and other eighth grade error messages)
By Denise Vega
Little, Brown and Company
July 2009
288 pages

Readers may remember Erin Penelope Swift from Click Here: To Find Out How I Survived Seventh Grade. Or as Erin refers to it – YOHE (Year of Humiliating Events).

As eighth grade approaches, Erin vows to stop embarrassing herself and put an end to the humiliation 4-ever. But with an over-protective mom breathing down her neck who refuses to let her go to rock concerts and is the self-appointed movie police, Erin’s resolve soon turns to all out angst. And there’s always plenty to angst about at Molly Brown Middle School. Like her gorgeous and fascinating new locker partner named Reede, boys, makeup, designing the school’s new website, boys, and getting her first period. Did I mention boys?

Erin flits from kissy-face Blake to we’re-just-friends Mark to 2-hot-2-handle Jeff like a sugar starved hummingbird. Impatient for independence, Erin steps further and further outside the safety zones of home and school as she discovers a new self-confidence. Things once important to her like good grades, sports, and web design fall by the wayside as she becomes increasingly fascinated with her own hotness.

However the freedom she gains from sneaking around behind her mom’s back comes with a price. When an old friend dies suddenly Erin-the-goody-two-shoes and Erin-the-party-girl collide. As she picks her way through the wreckage, Erin comes face-to-face with the people she has disappointed. Most of all she is disappointed in herself.

Can she somehow salvage the Erin Penelope Swift that everyone knows and loves? What if she doesn’t like that person anymore?

Access Denied is a sometimes comical, sometimes poignant, and always captivating portrayal of teen angst. Vega draws an authentic picture of modern middle school mayhem and how popularity can lure anyone into leading a double life.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Peggy Tibbetts

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