Gertie Reece Foy is 100% Not-From-Concentrate awesome. She has a daddy who works on an oil rig, a great-aunt who always finds the lowest prices at the Piggly Wiggly, and two loyal best friends. So when her absent mother decides to move away from their small town, Gertie sets out on her greatest mission yet: becoming the best fifth grader in the universe to show her mother exactly what she'll be leaving behind. There's just one problem: Seat-stealing new girl Mary Sue Spivey wants to be the best fifth grader, too. And there is simply not enough room at the top for the two of them.
Rating: 4 Stars
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I was happy to find this book at the time I did because it was a fast, fun middle grade read that got me through a downswing in reading time after some heavier books. This book has a heroine that you just can't help rooting for. She has you from the first chapter, when she's doing her best to become the best darn fifth grader there is. There are obvious ups and downs, or this wouldn't be a good story, but she's got a lot of the stubbornness that I seem to remember kids having when I was that age, so I'd say the author did a good job portraying the characters accurately.
Gertie was an awesome kid. She was the kind of kid that, if I were a classmate of hers, I would have admired and possibly been a little bit afraid of. She has all these grand ideas and she is not the least bit afraid to try and pull them off.
Mary Sue was a perfect villain for this piece. She wasn't evil, exactly, but she had a lot of the personality traits that I find very annoying and would definitely put her at the top of my list of most hated people. She thinks she's so special because of who her father is (a Hollywood big wig), she's so smart because she learned her state capitals last year. It's the smarmy-ness in her voice, her arrogance, that gets to you and makes you just root for her downfall. Giving a character these little traits that add up to one big annoyance is a great way to make a villain without actually making someone evil.
The atmosphere of the piece felt a bit older than perhaps modern day, but that didn't really effect the story in anyway. If anything, it got me as the reader to focus more on the characters. I think Gertie is someone that middle graders, and even older readers, ought to give a chance to and pick up her Leap to Greatness. It's a good fun read that goes by fast and leaves you with a satisfied feeling at the end, a comfort food book of middle grade literature.
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