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The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO ONE CHOICE: PRINCESS OR SHADOW.

Topics of Interest: environment, friendship, poverty, survival, loss, revenge, romance, abuse, secrets

Curriculum Connections: English, Environmental Studies

Gender: F/M

Age: 14+

Blurb: If you’ve ever been a new student at school then you’ve experienced the special ring of hell that’s reserved just for you. Being new has its own brand of humiliation, especially if you transfer in the middle of the school year. Desks are taken, cliques have formed, and lunch tables are occupied according to social rank. You’re pretty much screwed unless someone takes you under their wing.

Sage, in The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things, remembers all too well being the new girl in a small-town school. Luckily, she is befriended by Ryan and feels safe and content—at least until she finds out the secret he’s hiding.

But Sage has a significant secret of her own, one that could destroy her reputation. Refusing to give in to her “darker” side over her crushing disappointment in Ryan’s behaviour, Sage stays positive by posting words of encouragement on people’s lockers. Known as the “Post-it Princess,” Sage works hard to keep her past life hidden and her current life calm.

Sage channels her positive energy into an environment club, her aunt’s happiness, and Shane, the newest kid at school. She falls in love, makes new friends, and is even ready to give Ryan a second chance when the town’s biggest bully sets his sights on her.

Now all bets are off. Sage isn’t sure if she can keep her darker side–her Shadow–under control; and what’s more, she’s not sure she wants to.

She never did like the nickname “Princess.”

Flavour: “I know what they call me. The goth girls started it, all ripped black fishnets and heavy kohl, with chipped black nail polish and metric tons of attitude, like any of that makes them cooler than anyone else. It so doesn’t, but high school is full of people who think that what they wear matters more than who they are. But I should talk. Before I came to stay with Aunt Gabby, I was worse than those girls. But she’s taught me a lot in the years I’ve been living with her, mostly to stop being angry about things I can’t control. Like my mom. My dad. And especially the nickname.” (5)

“So he knows, then [about my post-its]. It sounds stupid when I try to articulate it; my reasons come out in a whispered jumble, about making somebody’s day better when things are total crap. I talk about silver linings and being the queen of bright and shiny things. He’s listening, but I sound crazy. I know I do. It’s pointless, possibly even pretentious, to think I could make a difference.” (29)

“Shadow Sage is stirring in her shallow grave, raking the earth and whispering in my ear. Since I’m holding a figurative sword over Dylan’s head, I have to decide what to do. I could retaliate for him picking on Shane, but I’m not ready to ruin so many other lives. Yet he shouldn’t get away with hurting people. Someone needs to show him how it feels.” (194)

“Everything I’ve built over the last three years is gone. Now I’m back to being a freak show. I can expect more whispers, more people rushing to avoid me, refusing to make eye contact. All the projects I’ve planned, including the town garden, will fail. Who wants to help a crazy girl?” (208)

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