Author:  Mila Bernadkin
ISBN-10: 1589851552
ISBN-13: 978-1589851559
Publisher:  Five Star Publications, Inc.

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Vicky, a senior in High School, has a bad attitude.  She loves money a little too much, and when her mom loses her job, this parsimonious pessimist imagines the worst.  On top of that, she and her four best friends have to deal with typical teen issues of dating, school bullies, parties, friendships, and getting into college.  In this Young Adult novel, five best friends help each other through their final year of high school, and the one with the worst attitude gains a new improved outlook on life.

Told from Vicky’s first-person point of view, the strong voice and snappy inner- dialogue are what make this book work.  We always know what Vicky is thinking and feeling; her italicized thoughts are amusing as well as revealing.  The book follows the transformation of her attitude from bad to good.  Readers like to see characters go through change, and this format gives the story shape; but the execution here lacks tightness.  Vicky’s attitude is not all bad in the beginning: she apologizes to her mom, she decides to save her money, and she suggests taking a loner girl shopping to help her with her image.  By not making her “badder” than she is, it seems like the author is trying to make readers like Vicky, but it weakens the effect of the transformation at the end. 

When a schoolmate dies, this has a profound effect on Vicky, helping to lead to her change of heart, but this character is very minor in the story and not close to Vicky, so this has a weak effect too.  It might have been more effective if one of her close friends died (like from alcohol abuse—one of the issues lightly touched on in this book), or if Vicky had to actually get a job, but Bernadkin stays away from hard choices and makes safe ones, keeping the feel happy and comfortable; like a conventional teen movie, we know that everything is going to turn out fine for our heroine.

The four sister-like friends that Vicky travels with is a fun bunch, each with a distinct personality, well written, giving us a clear picture of each one.  Her boyfriend is somewhat of a conventional cut-out, but I enjoyed her cleverly expressive inner-dialogue during scenes with him.  The spoken dialogue between characters at times feels somewhat contrived, as they all make formal sounding statements, perfectly articulating their feelings and thoughts.  For teenagers especially, this is unusual.  The reader doesn’t always want to be told what the characters are feeling; we want to figure it out.

The only big problem with this book is there are too many quotes!  In the twelfth chapter, there are thirteen: eight adages, (“what goes around comes around”, “Life stinks and then you die”), and five quotes by famous people (Victor Hugo, Napoleon Bonaparte).  One of the character’s “thing” is quoting people, but she doesn’t even quote in this chapter.  These quotes detract from the drama.

The grandparents and the mother are a nice part of this book; I enjoyed Vicky’s interaction with them. 

Mila Bernadkin was a 1st place winner in the Arizona Authors Association Annual Literary Awards contest, 1st Place at the 2009 London Book Festival and Honorable Mentions at the DIY and Los Angeles Book Festivals

 Click Here To Purchase The Attitude Girl