The Ashbury-Brookfield pen pal program was designed to bring together the "lowlife Brooker kids" (as they're known to the Ashburyites) and the "rich Ashbury snobs" (as they're called by the Brookfielders) in a spirit of harmony and the Joy of the Envelope. But things don't go quite as planned. Lydia and Sebastian trade challenges, like setting off the fire alarm at Brookfield. Emily tutors Charlie in How to Go On a Date with a Girl. But it's Cassie and Matthew who both reveal and conceal the most about themselves -- and it's their secrets and lies that set off a war between the two schools.I didn’t actually realize this was the second book in a series until I got home from checking it out at the library. But I decided to read it anyway, despite not having read the first book, and as it turns out, reading the first book was completely unnecessary to understanding this one. Luckily.
I had a lot of fun with this book. It’s written mostly in letters and journal entries, which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea in terms of book formats (and I’ll admit it doesn’t always work for me either), but in the case of this book, I thought it kept the story light and funny and unpredictable. The downside to this format was that since there are six characters writing back and forth, it took me a third of the way into the book to be able to keep track of who was who. And even then, I sometimes had to flip back to remind myself which storyline went with which character. But despite this, I enjoyed the characters and their story too much to really get annoyed with the hassle.
Speaking of enjoying the characters, I thought the whole gang was pretty great. I’d be reading along and think, yep, Lydia’s my favorite, but then I’d hit Emily’s chapter and be like, actually maybe I like Emily better. And then I’d get to Cassie’s chapter, and I bet you can guess what happened there. Even now that I’ve finished the book, I still can’t decide on which of the three I like best. And Seb and Charlie? Both golden. And since I’m on the topic of characters, can I just say how much I loved the parents in this book? They’re kind of really super awesome.
This book made me smile so many times, but it’s not only fun and games. It manages to tackle some heavier issues as well, like the repercussions of Cassie’s dad’s death. But while the book touches on some more serious topics, it’s generally a lighthearted, humorous read filled with plenty of hijinks and secret assignments.
Overall, prepare to be charmed. While I did think the book erred a bit on the ridiculous/unbelievable side for the last 50 pages or so, the moments of hilarity and awesomeness of the previous pages made up for it.
Rating: 4 / 5