Firecracker by David Iserson
Spoiled rich girl meets…public school.
Interests/Topics: identity, self-esteem, self-indulgence, family relationships, humour, revenge
Curriculum Connections: English, Equity Studies, Economics
Blurb: Here’s the funny thing I’ve noticed about advice: people hand it out freely and usually without a request. I can’t count how many times people have offered advice to me—my mom (“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”); my dad (“Carpe Diem!”); my aunt (“Things could be worse… [fill in worse thing here]”); the stranger on the street (“Your daughter would be warmer with a hat”). I didn’t realize that I needed so much help.
I don’t mind receiving advice from my family members. In all honesty, they usually only give it to me when I’ve been griping on and on about something and they’re trying to end our phone conversations. It’s the unsolicited advice that really irks me. I get it–everyone has an opinion and most people think that they are doing you a favour by sharing it. I’ve learned though, to take this freely offered advice with a grain of salt. The best advice I’ve received in life has come from those people whom I truly respect, and only after I’ve approached them for it.
Unfortunately for Astrid Krieger, the one person she respects and takes advice from is her curmudgeon of a grandfather. Rich beyond belief and ornery as hell, Montgomery Krieger has instilled in Astrid the mindset that bad actions only have consequences when you get caught. Since she was six years old, Astrid has followed her grandfather’s lead to always, always have an alibi, and up until now, that advice has served her well.
But spoiled Astrid is on her own once she gets kicked out of her fancy, exclusive school for cheating. Her parents are fed up with her constant shenanigans, and her grandfather won’t help her because she got caught (apparently the cheating was okay with him). Astrid claims she was set up.
Flavour: “’We think you should go to the public school,’ Dad said. This was just a horrible, mean thing to say. Just hearing the words ‘public school’ out loud made my mouth taste like urine (which, not coincidentally, is exactly how the public school smells).” (10)
“’So let me get perspective,’ [grandpa] said. ‘Did you cheat?’
‘Of course I did. Everyone does.’
‘Be glad I’m not working for the FBI. The confessions roll right off your tongue,’ he said. ‘Were you sloppy?’
‘I’m never sloppy….I have no patience for those who can’t execute a plan with elegance,’ I said. ‘I was set up.’
‘That only means you went into business with the wrong people. You made your bed, Astrid.’
‘Untrue. I’ve never made a bed in my life.’
My grandfather laughed.” (14-15)
“’I feel stupid, you know. I feel like I let someone stupider than me outsmart me.’
‘Yeah. I’ll say that’s about right,’ [said grandpa]. ‘What are you going to do about it?’
‘You want me to forgive him?’
‘Forgiveness,’ he said, ‘is for those too weak to hold a grudge.’” (101)
“’Tell me,’ I said, ‘this homecoming queen, does the title come with its own tiara?’
[The boy] leaned back in his chair, barely bothering to look at me. ‘There’s a thing the queen wears on her head. Yeah.’
‘I’m sure it’s plastic.’
‘I’m sure I could bring my own. And the throne? Do they just keep it at the front of the school and people move it around, or is there one in each classroom that the queen attends?’” (137)