In the Role of Brie Hutchens...
In the Role of Brie Hutchens...

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Annotation: When strong-willed, theatrical eighth grader Brie Hutchens tells a lie because she isn't quite ready to come out to her mother, she must navigate the consequences in her relationships with her family, friends, and faith in this own-voices LGBTQ novel from the acclaimed author of Hurricane Season .
Catalog Number: #219720
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Publisher: Workman Pub. Co.
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 272
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 1-616-20907-0 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8421-5
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-616-20907-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8421-4
Dewey: Fic
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Using her own love of soap operas, Melleby tells the story of eighth-grader Brie, whose life is getting as complicated as a daytime drama. Her father, who lost his job, works as a janitor at her Catholic school, which helps pay the tuition and embarrasses Brie. Less income means her mother has to work more, so their afternoon ritual of watching General Hospital disappears. Their drifting relationship makes it even harder for Brie to confide that the potential boyfriends her mom has teased about might, in fact, be girlfriends. Melleby starts each chapter with a snippet of a classic soap scene, though their date stamps initially confuse as to when Brie's story is set. There's some repetition in both plot lines and descriptions (Brie reddens and sweats a lot), but the story honestly conveys Brie's confusion about her sexuality, while at the same time moving plotlines to the next level by also delving into the way the family's Catholicism affects events. Younger teens questioning their sexuality faith ll find much to ponder here.
Kirkus Reviews
From the author of Hurricane Season (2019) comes a story about the lengths to which people go to avoid the discomfort of change.Aspiring actor Brie, 13, loves soap operas, with their dramatic plot twists and complex webs of relationships. Brie does not love school: Her mediocre grades, "organization issues," and ambivalence about religion dismay most of the teachers at her co-ed Catholic middle school. But after her mom accidentally learns that Brie likes girls, not boys, Brie attempts to become an A student and a more devout Catholic to "keep [her] mom's focus away" from this developing discovery. The problem is that being a "good girl" is not so easy as Brie's perfect, pious classmate Kennedy makes it seem, and in trying to be like Kennedy, Brie realizes they might have more in common than she thought….Unlike the soap operas Brie devours, this is no rehashing of stale tropes. Brie's journey is not one of escape from a stifling Catholic girlhood but is a more nuanced exploration of how to reconcile faith and identity. Melleby's clear, honest voice expertly captures the frustration, awkwardness, and fear of being vulnerable—as well as the potential rewards. Brie, Kennedy, Brie's best friend, and their families appear white; Wallace, "one of three black kids in their grade," is a well-developed secondary character.This funny, tender, and heart-wrenching story will have readers calling for an encore. (Fiction. 8-13)
Publishers Weekly
One of the few things 13-year-old Brie and her mother have in common is their love of soap operas, and the eighth grader can-t wait to use her extensive knowledge of their dramatics when she auditions for her New Jersey school-s play. But when her mom walks in just after she stumbles upon Playboy photos of her favorite female actor online, Brie blurts a lie to distract her: Brie will crown Mary during her Catholic school-s annual celebratory mass. In reality, that honor is usually reserved for top students such as Kennedy Bishop, a classmate on whom Brie develops a crush. Mediocre student Brie redoubles her scholarly efforts, hoping to crown Mary and prove that she-s responsible enough to try out for a performing arts high school. Brie also worries about her disassociation from her faith, which is linked in her mind to her awakening sexuality and the growing distance she feels between herself and her mother. Melleby (Hurricane Season) paints Brie as a recognizable teen: authentic in her self-centeredness and sympathetic in her attempts to embrace her identity. Brie-s anxiety over her faith, as well as how to come out to her loved ones, is wrenching and genuine in this accomplished, leisurely paced read. Ages 10-up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 68 Eighth grade is proving to be a difficult year for Brie Hutchens as she negotiates crushes, play tryouts, friendships, parental tensions, awakening sexuality, and a need to do better on her schoolwork in her small Catholic middle school. Brie wants to be an actress like the ones she and her mother watch in the soap operas every afternoon, to land the lead role in the school play, and to attend the Theater High School next year. But her father has lost his job and works as a custodian in her school in return for tuition, and her mom has to work even more hours to help make ends meet, so that school may be out of reach. When she is caught looking at suggestive pictures of a pretty soap-opera star, Brie lies about being chosen to crown the Mary statue during the very important May Crowning Ceremony at her school. She knows that the honor will probably go to someone who excels in classsomeone like the lovely Kennedy. Unlike her best friend, who crushes on every boy in class, Brie finds herself attracted to Kennedy; this causes her to wrestle with very confusing emotions, to have some tense conversations with her parents, and even to question her Catholic faith. Her struggles and those of her family seem authentic, their interactions realistic, and Brie's desire to be really seen and loved for who she is will ring true with many middle school readers. VERDICT Although not all readers will identify with the Catholic school experience, they will empathize with Brie as she strives to find herself, comes to terms with her sexuality, and navigates the social maze that is middle school. MaryAnn Karre, Binghamton, NY
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
From the author of Hurricane Season (2019) comes a story about the lengths to which people go to avoid the discomfort of change.Aspiring actor Brie, 13, loves soap operas, with their dramatic plot twists and complex webs of relationships. Brie does not love school: Her mediocre grades, "organization issues," and ambivalence about religion dismay most of the teachers at her co-ed Catholic middle school. But after her mom accidentally learns that Brie likes girls, not boys, Brie attempts to become an A student and a more devout Catholic to "keep [her] mom's focus away" from this developing discovery. The problem is that being a "good girl" is not so easy as Brie's perfect, pious classmate Kennedy makes it seem, and in trying to be like Kennedy, Brie realizes they might have more in common than she thought….Unlike the soap operas Brie devours, this is no rehashing of stale tropes. Brie's journey is not one of escape from a stifling Catholic girlhood but is a more nuanced exploration of how to reconcile faith and identity. Melleby's clear, honest voice expertly captures the frustration, awkwardness, and fear of being vulnerable—as well as the potential rewards. Brie, Kennedy, Brie's best friend, and their families appear white; Wallace, "one of three black kids in their grade," is a well-developed secondary character.This funny, tender, and heart-wrenching story will have readers calling for an encore. (Fiction. 8-13)
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews (3/1/20)
ALA Booklist (3/1/20)
Publishers Weekly (3/1/20)
School Library Journal (3/1/20)
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 6-8

Introducing Brie Hutchens: soap opera super fan, aspiring actor, and so-so student at her small Catholic school. Brie has big plans for eighth grade. She's going to be the star of the school play and convince her parents to let her go to the performing arts high school. But when Brie's mom walks in on her accidentally looking at some possibly inappropriate photos of her favorite actress, Brie panics and blurts out that she's been chosen to crown the Mary statue during her school's May Crowning ceremony. Brie's mom is distracted with pride--but Brie's in big trouble: she has not been chosen. No one has, yet. Worse, Brie has almost no chance to get the job, which always goes to a top student. Desperate to make her lie become truth, Brie turns to Kennedy, the girl everyone expects to crown Mary. But sometimes just looking at Kennedy gives Brie butterflies. Juggling her confusing feelings with the rapidly approaching May Crowning, not to mention her hilarious non-star turn in the school play, Brie navigates truth and lies, expectations and identity, and how to--finally--make her mother really see her as she is.


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