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Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress
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Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  169 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Brett McCarthy lives for vocabulary words, soccer, and her larger-than-life grandmother, Nonna. Unfortunately, Brett’s got a big mouth she can’t seem to tame and opinions she can’t keep to herself. And she’s obsessed with the moment she became redefined and went from good student, bestfriend-to-Diane to twice-suspended, friendless, and deadest meat in Maine. Soon her world ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2008)
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Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

Normally a decent student, a star soccer player, and responsible only daughter, Brett McCarthy isn't exactly sure what is going wrong. First she is suspended, then earns unlimited lunchtime detentions with the middle school principal, and then she is suspended again. It is enough to freak anyone out.

To complicate matters, Brett learns that her long-time best friend is not only dealing with divorcing parents, but has also lost her m
Aug 22, 2008 Karlan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
This engaging teen novel has that special spark which makes the reader really care. Brett is a delightful girl who grows and learns more about herself while losing and gaining friends.
Apr 24, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book and how the main character, Brett McCarthy, evolved throughout the story.
Joana Hill
Read more reviews at my blog, Words and Tea Bottles.

And here we have another book that takes place in Maine. I believe I mentioned on Girl Unmoored how thankful I am for books that take place in Maine; they’re rare, especially in the young-adult range. Where it counted, Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress was a pretty good book; it was paced well, the writing style wasn’t too murky or simple, and there wasn’t any one part of the book that made me just want to put it down or read one of the other bo
Mar 23, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress by Maria Padian. I rated this book 4 stars. I really liked it, but the beginning of it was really slow and boring. This book is about Brett McCarthy, an only child, only granddaughter, vocabulary ace, best 8th grade corner kicker in Maine, and Dianne's best friend. Until one day that all changes to Brett McCarthy, deadest meat in Maine and possibly the planet, practically friendless, violent, and suspended, all because a prank. Brett and dianne prank calle ...more
Gr 6-9-Brett thinks she knows herself pretty well: star soccer player, vocabulary ace, and best friend to Diane. But in eighth grade, Diane is more interested in the cheerleading crowd and everything is changing. A telephone prank backfires and Jeanne Anne, a new girl, manages to shift the blame to Brett, even though four girls were involved. Feeling victimized and angry, she loses her temper at school and punches Jeanne Anne, resulting in suspension. Within a few days, her social status has cha ...more
Feb 07, 2009 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andy by: New Book Shelf at School Library
Brett is an 8th grade girl who is dealing with liking boys, hating some girls, being a star athlete, and then... and then her world comes crashing down around her. She loses friends, destroys her own reputation, sees the ugly side of social groups up close, and that's just the easy part of her life. Brett is a thoughtful girl, but she cannot see past her own flaws. Each chapter is a vocabulary word, and as she slowly comes to terms (pun intended) with the way her world has changed, we se
Sep 16, 2008 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I may be growing up - the trials and angst of 8th graders no longer is a comfort zone, and can be just exhausting. That being said, the book is well-written, describes well the horrible social environment of middle school, introduces school administrators with redeeming qualities and provides an interesting resolution for best friends who simply grow apart.

Her grandmother's comment about illness was perhaps the moment I realized there was more inside the book than teen angst. "I have cancer," s
Aug 29, 2015 Sarina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, this description of middle school is sooo inaccurate. For one thing, the people good at math and science are NOT necessarily social outcasts. Why does everyone assume that smart people get bullied and ridiculed? We are treated like any other person.
Another thing, how many prodigies in a school building does the author think there are? So far in my highschool I can think of 2 prodigies, and that's 4 grades, not just one. Certainly not enough to fill a class.
Warning: If you haven't
Sep 20, 2014 Randy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: coming, of, age, fiction, realistic
Brett seems to have it all: good friends, good grades, a supporting family, and a starting place on her school's soccer and basketball teams. But in one day, she manages to lose it all (or most of it), when she and her friends play a crank-calling prank on a boy from school. The joke turns sour and she gets the blame, but it doesn't end there. The other girls start to distance themselves from her, and when one of them makes a joke about Brett's eccentric grandmother, Brett lets her fists fly. It ...more
Sharon Hughson
Jul 12, 2014 Sharon Hughson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book captures the voice of an eighth grade girl precisely. I could imagine her in all her snarky glory. I thought for a few moments I had actually had her in my classroom before.
This is a coming of age type story that will appeal to 6-8th grade girls. The main character is a "jock" whose world falls apart after she makes a few bad decisions. The author depicts the middle school hierarchy and the interrelationships of younger teenage girls perfectly.
The story moves quickly with several unex
Oct 28, 2008 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Eighth Grader Brett likes vocabulary, loves soccer, and is best friends with Diane, even though they are pretty different. Best friends, that is, until annoying Jeanne makes Brett play a phone prank that backfires, alienating Brett from Diane and landing her in trouble at school. Brett is forced to examine the changes taking place not just with her friendships at school, but what seems like everywhere in her life. Though the book’s early prank feels slightly contrived, Padian has constructed a v ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Hailey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brett McCarthy is a good soccer player, and she is smart, with a great vocabulary. She is a good student, and has a amazing best friend; Diane. Everything's going well, but then when Jean Ann comes along and ruins everything, by insisting that Brett McCarthy and Diane should do one more prank call for good old times, but then they were caught and Brett McCarthy is blamed for the whole thing, and that’s when she opens her big mouth and can’t keep her opinions inside. That’s where everything start ...more
Nov 10, 2015 Jocelyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brett McCarthy is having the time of her life. She has the best soccer team, the best friends, and her Nonna. All until Jean Anne comes along. She seems to be taking away Brett's best friend and when she seems like she can't get any more annoying she comes up with the prank. Brett and her friends used to prank call people just for fun when they were younger but Jean Anne insists they should do it one last time. But they get caught. Brett gets blamed for it and she seems to to have nothing. Brett ...more
May 15, 2015 Athen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an amazing book about a girl named Brett McCarthy. Her definition goes from Brett McCarthy- Only Child; Only Granddaughter; Vocab Ace; Soccer Star; Diane's Best Friend to Brett McCarthy- Deadest Meat in Maine; Practically Friendless; Violent; Suspended in a matter of days! Brett struggles throughout the book to redefine herself and find her way through juinor high. The major theme in this story was friendship and growing apart from it. I really like the author because she is amazing at ...more
Aug 26, 2016 Grady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brett McCarthy is the best 8th grade corner kicker in Maine, until she makes a prank phone call to one of her friends parents. Brett didn't know that the prank would ruin her and her best friends relationship. Brett's grandmother, Nonna, gets sick with cancer later on in the story but tries to hide it from Brett. And "April" is considered to be the worst moth of all. I really liked this book it was written really well, and I liked the dictionary style headings. I would recommend this book to any ...more
Carol Chatfield
A really bad cover probably dooms this book, which is a very light read following eighth grader Brett through several ups and downs over the course of a few months.
The interesting part is the vocabulary introduced as Brett's moods change and she defines herself by the word of the moment (provoked, pensive, agitated - 45 different words)and gives a dictionary definition.
The story feels like a more mature Ramona (Beverly Cleary) novel with all the angst of the moment, but it's not enough to give i
Mar 01, 2010 Miste rated it liked it
Another tween book on the school booklist. Good story about changing friendships and how it feels to be "out". Middle school seems to be a time for alot of changes for kids in more ways than one and this book captures that quite well. Brett is a spunky, loud mouthed "jock" who gets herself into a little trouble at school and has some tough times going at home. She comes through it okay and I guess that is the message to kids that read can make it through whatever it is. Not the best boo ...more
Feb 22, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I picked up this book, I was convinced that it took place in the 40's because of the cover. I love period pieces, so I was sort of disappointed that is wasn't. But I kept on thinking that it was a book set in the past the whole time I was reading it, and when they would IM and text, that was sort of jarring to me. But the theme of lost friendship and aging relatives was universal. Very sad at times, but enjoyable.
Dec 03, 2013 Gabrielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recently purchased this novel for three dollars at my school book fair. I simply thought it to be an old book to read when bored during class, etc. instead I became engrossed in it and I stayed up late the night after I purchased it so that I could finish it. No, it wasn't my best read by far, but I did thoroughly enjoy it. It's a good, fairly-easy read that is a good time filler. I will probably reread it once or twice.
May 05, 2015 Madison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very good. The ending was sad but it was good at the same time. It was about a girl, her name was Brett McCarthy. She was a soccer player, she had a best friend named Diane. The book surrounds a dumb mistake that Brett made at Diane's house. A prank phone call to the most popular guy in school. After that she becomes a mess, gets into a fight, gets suspended multiple times. Read the book to find out what else happens in her life.
Dec 18, 2013 Tessa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about friendship and trust. Towards the beginning she is set up and a girl who hates her turns all her friends against her. Throughout the story she is bullied and she constantly try's to show her friends the truth about this girl. I find the ending a good outcome, but throughout the story I was frustrated that no one believed her and everything she tried made her look worse. I love her Grandma who is constantly giving her advice and believes her.
Mar 05, 2011 MaryJS rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Middle school girls and their moms
Recommended to MaryJS by: My daughter
Shelves: read-in-2011
Great book - I read it with my middle school daughter! A book for girls struggling with the BFF changes that occur in middle school. The changes between Brett and Diane explain things better than I've been able to - how we grow apart as we grow older. Please read this with your daugher when she begins to struggle with the friend changes that are the bane of every 7th or 8th grade girl's existance. Thank you Maria Padian!
This book got off to a bit of a slow start for me, but once it got going I really liked it. Brett is a spunky character who struggles with making the right choices and navigating all of the changes and challenges of junior high. And, her relationship with her Nonna reminded me of my relationship with my g-ma, which made me both smile and cry.
Anita Prince
Feb 08, 2010 Anita Prince rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brett McCarthy is well-liked and the star player on her soccer team. Then she makes a huge mistake: she prank calls Bob Levesque's - the hottest, most popular boy in Mescataqua Junior High - house. Now she's the "Deadest Meat in Maine." She spends eighth grade redefining herself: learning about who she really is and about the people who are really important in her life.
Apr 20, 2009 Ricki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brett is a good kid at heart, but her big mouth gets her in a lot of bad places. An eighth grader, she encounters a problem that many junior high kids face--she and her best friend are growing apart. I liked this book but it didn't feel unique, and I wonder if I will remember the plot in a month. I did enjoy how Padian included great vocabulary words.
Oct 23, 2011 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Volunteer State Book Award list
I really LOVED this book! Wonderfully real and open heroine. Believable situations and setting. And there's no cutesy let's-tie-all-our-little-loose-ends-together ending to this story. And while I know that it's a YA book, I think that it is well-written enough that adults will find it worthwhile reading.
Sydney  Morrissette
Bett is (without knowing) trying to find out who se really is. She was a good student, soccer player, and everything in between. But on October 16th all of that changed. More drama then there has ever been. This book was one of the best books I have ever read, it really gets how tough things can really be. In an average girls middle school life.
Beverly Ploughe
Dec 29, 2012 Beverly Ploughe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book! I think most middle school girls (and even some boys) will. We all knew people in middle school like the characters in the book, and watching Brett redefine herself is very engrossing. Yes, it has some sad parts, but I found it hard to put this one down. Very enjoyable!
Oct 30, 2008 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen-fiction
Despite having a horrible cover which will surely never entice teens to even give this book a second glance, the story is absolutely wonderful. It has all the great elements of sadness and humor and is a well written story about maturing, losing friends, and dealing with the imminent death of a loved one.
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I'm a reader and an author: not a critic or a reviewer! I believe in the power of stories. So while I definitely have my opinions about the things I read, my primary goal is to share great books and promote literature, which is one of my great, abiding passions.

That said, I'm no longer going to affix stars to the books I read. I'll offer a comment or two, and maybe if I'm deliriously in love and
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