Estelle: The Julian Game by Adele Griffin

The Julian Game by Adele GriffinThe Julian Game by Adele Griffin ( website | tweet )
Publication Date: August 26, 2010
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pages: 200
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: bullying, online identity, popularity
Format read: Borrowed from library.

Summary: A new girl on scholarship at an all-girls school doesn’t mean instant popularity. But Raye wants it, no matter what she has to do, and getting together with dreamy Julian wouldn’t hurt either.

I’m jumping on the Adele Griffin bandwagon, folks.

Because this gal can pack complexity into 200 pages like no other author I have read.

SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS: LESS IS MORE!

This is not a mind-blowing premise either. New girl wants to be popular. Ignores real friendship to latch on to superficial ones, and along the way hopes all of her efforts will pay off. New girl also likes popular, adorable boy from neighboring school and hopes she can make that happen. And that’s just the beginning.

When Raye and Ella (the popular one) team up to “take down” Julian (because Ella is mad at him) using a fake Facebook profile, Raye thinks she can one up Ella and befriend Julian without any repercussions.

She should have known better.

Two thoughts really stand out to me in this book. 1) How we can use technology to deceive others. Even if we are being genuine to who we are, we never can truly know what’s going on with the other side of the screen. Even the smallest thing can give you the wrong impression of someone, and maybe without even knowing it we are cushioning and forumlating our own online identities all the time. And 2) what about those nice guys who think they are nice guys, kind of act like nice guys, but are really not nice guys? Aren’t we tricked by people like this all the time? Personally, I think they are totally delusional but I like how familiar this kind of character feels to me.

Griffin’s writing style is so punchy, completely fast-paced, and grounded. She has her character voices down, she doesn’t overshare with the reader, and, my favorite of all, her words are witty, hard hitting, and honest. Her supporting characters are pretty fantastic as well: Tal is Raye’s bestie who is pretty patient and supportive, and even though I really wanted to hate Ella, I was surprisingly entertained by her sometimes and could also see that flicker of HUMAN flashing somewhere in her body. Supporting characters do not have to be caricatures and villains do not have to be typically mean. Griffin is a generous writer and gives everyone substance. (Even Raye’s dad’s girlfriend.)

So what price would you pay for popularity? And what happens when people are not what they seem?

The Julian Game is worth the ride.

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