June 2005

Surviving high school traumas

By Lauren Mechling Moser
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Navigating the halls of high school is a hard enough challenge for a teenager. Add to that a parental breakup, a move from a distant location and a school where the rules of normality are thrown out the window and you’ve got the makings of The Rise and Fall of a 10th-Grade Social Climber, a new novel for teens by Lauren Mechling and Laura Moser.

The co-authors, who met while sharing acne medication in a company ladies’ room, share an eye-opening glimpse into the life of Mimi Schulman, a 15-year-old Texas transplant who finds herself in the heart of New York City’s eclectic scene. Shortly after her arrival, Mimi is goaded into making a bet with a childhood friend in which she pledges to become friends with the Coolies, the most popular and seemingly shallowest girls in her class. Though initiated as a joke, the wager soon becomes the bane of Mimi’s existence. As she grows closer and closer to the Coolies, Mimi learns that although the Coolies seem egotistical and uncaring, they are actually a closely knit group of sympathetic friends. Their perceived egotism comes not from feeling better than those around them, but from a desire to protect each other from the various traumas of their lives. Once she is let in on each of the girls’ secrets a battle with drug addiction, a habit of shoplifting, a mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown, an inability to make the grade Mimi struggles to admit her own little secret: that her friendship with them is based on lies and deceit. But before she can come clean to her newfound friends, Mimi’s ill-conceived scheme is exposed. The Coolies turn on her and she is left to sort out who she is on her own. The authors present a no-holds-barred look at the realities of being an adolescent in today’s society: parental breakups, peer pressure, drugs, alcohol and sex. And though not every teenager will be confronted with these issues, it is clear from this glimpse into the adolescent world that the challenges of being a teenager today are more complex than most of us realize.

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