Ari's Reviews > Nice and Mean

Nice and Mean by Jessica Leader
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's review
Jun 12, 2010

really liked it
Read from June 08 to 09, 2010 — I own a copy

One of my favorite part of the book is when Sachi and Priyanka talk abouthow every few years or so, Indian culture becomes popular (bhangra music, people start wearing variations of saris, etc.) and then interest dies out. I thought this was an interesting point that was brought up and I enjoyed reading about Sachi exploring the topic. Fashion trends can change, but it's not right that every couple of years one culture or another becomes "in" and then later on, it's "out."

Nice and Mean is a cute read that had me remembering my own middle school years (which was only about 2-3 years ago, haha) and had more depth than I expected. I think this book will really appeal to its targeted audience, older readers will think it's cute but they may grow frustrated at Sachi's passive voice or Marina's unchecked bullying. Middle school readers will be able to better relate and the subtle message incorporated into the novel about being assertive is one that all middle school aged students should keep in mind as they prepare for high school. The message about popularity is predictable and not as subtle. Towards the end it becomes quite clear what the message is since it is said over and over. I was also really pleased at the diversity in this novel. It's not forced, it all seems natural. Not only is Sachi Indian American but one of Marina's best friends is half Chinese and there are Latino and African American characters sprinkled throughout the novel. Schools are getting more and more diverse and I was really happy to see that Ms. Leader recognized that and included it. My automatic assumption would have been that all Marina's friends and their boyfriends/crushes were white, but they weren't. Marina's bullying humor, along with her horror of having to work with Sachi (and vice versa) all make for a pleasant and amusing read
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