Monday, January 19, 2015

The Anti-Socialites Diary 3: Team Misfits by Alicia and Tameka McKenzie

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
133 pages

Asia and Tasia McKinley's social misfortunes at school continue in The Anti-Socialites Diary 3: Team Misfits. They have moved back to New York City over the summer and are attending East Rivers Middle School for seventh grade. The differences between East Rivers and their previous middle school are glaringly obvious when it comes to culture and fashion, but before the year begins they celebrate their 12th birthday. Asia describes the new house and neighborhood her family lives in and is genuinely excited about getting to make noise past 9:00 p.m. "because people don't go to bed [early] here like they do in Maryland." She then talks about having a successful and fun birthday party with others kids on her block--a stark contrast to Asia and Tasia's tenth birthday party discussed in Diary 1: The Awkward Beginnings. Before the school year starts Asia optimistically writes "hopefully seventh grade turns out to be a nice surprise too."

Unfortunately, East Rivers Middle School is nothing like Asia expects. Her classmates are way bigger than she is and they wear trendier clothes and act "cooler" than she ever imagined. Although this is not an entirely new experience, Asia feels the weight of her isolation when she reflects that she only gets noticed when her classmates make fun of her hair and clothes. But the worst part is the extreme bullying she deals with from Raven Nickels, who rips up one of her Bookgirl comics in the first month of school. Because she is shunned by her peers Asia is flabbergasted when she suddenly gets a boyfriend named Eddie afterschool one day. It feels like a dream and Asia thinks she's in love until the illusion is shattered when Ricardo tells her in front of everyone in the cafeteria that Eddie dumped her for lead member of "The Hottie Clique" Vivienne Kidd. After that Asia develops an intense dislike for Vivienne and confronts her about her dishonesty in the Eddie situation. Halfway through the school year Asia is transferred to a new class that has a vigorous curriculum. She still excels academically, but she feels lonelier than ever before she finally befriends a girl named Celeste White. Asia is surprised by this friendship because Celeste is socially acceptable and does well in her classes. The only drawback to their relationship is that Celeste is happily dating a boy named Chase and pressures Asia to get a new boyfriend despite her lack of interest. When Celeste suggests that Asia go out with Alex from her former class, Asia respectfully declines.

That doesn't stop Alex from pursuing Asia with creepy love notes that have terrible riddles. Asia tells Alex that she doesn't want to go out with him and he shocks her by dumping his entire lunch tray of food over head. Everyone laughs at her in the cafeteria and this incident leads Asia to get counseling sessions from the school guidance counselor, Chairman. He invites her on the exclusive college trip to Cromwell University in May. Asia goes on the trip and has a terrible time because "The Hottie Clique", Dylan, and Eddie make fun of her nonstop. By the time they ride back to the city Asia defends herself and gives all of her bullies a taste of their own medicine by stating cold, hard facts about their grades and personalities. At the end of the school year Asia is rewarded the Golden Student of the Year Award at an awards assembly and cries on stage in front of the whole school. Although she is embarrassed, she is extremely relieved that she made it through seventh grade with the top grades and made a great friend despite the bias against her.

Tasia's school year is engrossed by her battle with the ultimate mean girls crew "The Hottie Clique." In the beginning of the school year "The Hottie Clique" leader Vivienne invites Tasia to join them and says she'll be able to get her a boyfriend quickly. Tasia is hesitant, but decides to join so she can fit in. It turns out to be a huge mistake because Vivienne is very controlling and condescending. Shortly after Tasia abruptly leaves "The Hottie Clique" she meets a new girl named Rose Pettals and they become best friends. Tasia and Rose decide to start a book where they write about their classmates and call it The T.R.uth. The students in their class are curious about what they have put in the book, but it's locked and only they have the key. Vivienne attempts to steal Rose away from Tasia by bribing her with a boy she likes named Antonio, but Rose tells her no thanks. The T.R.uth is dramatically stolen by Vivienne's admirers Colby and Allen, who give the book to Vivienne. After Vivienne reads the book she rips up all the pages. Tasia vows to write a new book, but doesn't follow through when she learns that Vivienne has been transferred to another seventh grade class. Tasia is briefly relieved only to find out that she has to deal with a new major problem--a boy named Sheldon who transfers to her class. He is a class clown who likes to make all his jokes about Tasia, but he actually has a crush on her that he's afraid to admit. Tasia is disgusted by his furtive advances on her especially when he asks her to be his secret Valentine.

Tasia turns him down, but keeps the chocolate he offers her. During the middle of the school year Tasia feels a bit lonely because Rose spends a lot of time with her boyfriend Antonio--that is until she develops a major crush on her classmate Orlando. She is partnered with Orlando for an English project and is pleasantly surprised by their easy camaraderie. Tasia and Rose attend the Spring Festival instead of going on the college trip to Cromwell University. Tasia thinks the festival is very boring and is mortified by a Justin Bieber impersonator. When Orlando arrives and helps Tasia buy a necklace she can't afford she goes into a daze prompting Rose to ask "Is there something you're not telling me?" Tasia says no and they laugh together because they both know she likes Orlando. May's entry begins in all caps: "DEVASTING, LIFE-CHANGING NEWS!" Sadly Rose moves away to Europe leaving Tasia to deal with Sheldon and "The Hottie Clique" by herself. In the last month of the school year Tasia and Rose talk over the phone and Tasia tells Rose the great news that Vivienne transferred to another school. Tasia is excited that she is hanging out with Orlando a lot in English class and reveals that he helps ease the pain of Rose's departure. The highlight of Tasia's year is a big hug from Orlando when he thanks her for helping him with his school work. Tasia dreams of the two of them being study partners in eighth grade and maybe more than that. For the first time in years Tasia and Asia do not get news that they are moving in the summer, instead they are invited on a trip to Treasure Island by their Uncle Wally. Tasia hopes to see One Direction there and predicts Asia, Mary, and Tasia will have a grand adventure.

The Anti-Socialites Diary 3: Team Misfits has tougher bullies and bigger social problems, but Asia and Tasia handle everything in stride because they're used to being outcasts. As grouping intensifies in middle school and beyond, Asia and Tasia feel fortunate that they always have someone they can talk to in their classes and they're confident that their intelligence will put them on top no matter how badly their peers mistreat them. Despite the harsher social conditions, the twins' display a lot of courage and optimism during all the changes they faced in seventh grade.

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