Title: Boys, Girls & Other Hazardous Material
Author: Rosalind Wiseman
Publisher: Penguin Putnam
Pub. Date: 1/12/10
Main Themes: High school, Love, Friendship, Popularity, Hazing
Plot (from back of arc):
Charlie Healey just wants a drama-free year, but it doesn’t seem like she’s going to get it. Middle school was rough. There were mean girls all around her, and she was even in danger of becoming one herself. High school is supposed to be her chance to leave all that behind, except that it isn’t.
On her very first day, who does she run into but her former best friend, Will, who’d moved away years ago. Now he’s back, he’s HOT, and he’s popular. Befriending him again takes Charlie back into the danger zone. And when a hazing prank turns near-deadly, Charlie and their new no-drama friends realize Will has gotten in way over his head trying to prove his loyalty to upperclassmen.
Torn between doing what’s right and secret feeling for Will, Charlie must decide whether to turn in her very best friend or live with the guilt of knowing what he did.
Rosalind Wiseman’s Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials is a hilarious and truthful look into the life of American high school students. It’d be difficult to find someone who can’t relate to at least one character in Wiseman’s novel. While I don’t remember my high school experience being quite as funny, I could definitely draw parallels between Charlie’s experiences and my own.
This novel had some laugh-out-loud funny passages that kept me entertained throughout the book. Charlie was an engaging and amusing narrator. Right from the beginning of the novel when Charlie tells about her first day at school, I felt like I knew her. In fact, I felt like I once was her. Maybe we didn’t experience all the same things, but the feelings and emotions Charlie feels throughout the novel are identical to those that I felt in high school. It is refreshing that Wiseman includes situations that real high school students experience or observe, like bullying, cliques, and crushes.
The romantic plot line within Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials was well-written and believable. I’m a fan of best friend turned love relationships and Wiseman wrote Charlie and Will’s relationship perfectly. The doubts and insecurities that I experienced when I began dating are present in Charlie’s and makes her experience that much more interesting and fun to read.
I enjoyed seeing how Charlie grew as the story progressed. Her relationships with other characters, like Will, Nidhi, and Sydney, grew and transformed along with her, much like relationships in real life. I was proud of and happy for the girl Charlie is by the end of the novel.
I love the fact that Rosalind Wiseman took situations that teens experience everyday and turned them into an entertaining story that I couldn’t help but like. The characters in BOYS, GIRLS AND OTHER HAZARDOUS MATERIALS are real and Wiseman touches on deeper topics, while keeping the novel light and fun.
Ratings (out of 10):
Total: 48/50 (A)
I definitely recommend this novel to teens and YA fans!