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The Year of Secret Assignments

By Jaclyn Moriarty

The hilarious follow-up to the #1 bestseller Feeling Sorry for Celia.

When Lydia, Emily, and Cassie are assigned pen pals among the thugs at Brookfield High, they respond in characteristic style:

Cassie: “I always think it’s funny when a teacher tries to be cool. I want to sit them down and say ‘It’s okay, you’re a grown-up, you’re allowed to be a nerd,’ and they will look up at me confused but also relieved and teary-eyed.”

Lydia: “I am a fish. You wouldn’t think so to look at me, what with my uniform and the hair on top of my head and all that. But it’s true. I am a fish.”

Emily: “Don’t get me started about chocolate! My nickname might be ‘Em,’ but sometimes it’s also Toblerone! I think this is an angiogram of Thompson, which is my last name.”

And their pen-pals? Sebastian is an artist, a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, and a major hottie. Charlie is utterly gullible, a car expert/occasional thief, and a really sweet guy. But Matthew is…well, he’s either a psychopath or a figment of Cassie’s imagination, neither of which is a good sign. And what starts out as a simple letter exchange leads to secret assignments, false alarms, lock picking, legal drama, mistaken identities, Dates with Girls, some really good kissing, and all-out war between the schools... the biggest challenge Lydia, Cass, and Emily’s friendship has ever faced.

Reviews and Awards

ALA Best Book for Young Adults
Horn Fanfare Book
Booklist Editor’s Choice
Amazon Editor’s Choice
Virginia Young Readers Award Nominee
IRA 2006 Young Adults' Choice

⋆ “Written entirely in letters, diary entries, lists, quizzes, transcripts, and mock subpoenas… the novel focuses on three Australian girls who have each been assigned to write to a student at a rival school. The girls' pen friends turn out to be three boys, and the entertaining correspondence between the couples reveals the characters' quirky ingenuity, pranks, burgeoning romances, and fierce friendships as well as deeper family stories, including one about a parent's death... [T]his is an unusual novel with an exhilarating pace, irrepressible characters, and a screwball humor that will easily attract teens, many of whom will yearn for madcap adventures and unshakably devoted friends like these.” – Booklist, starred review

⋆ “The novel - written entirely in letters, diary entries, e-mails, etc. - is fast and funny but not frothy. Moriarty's story is complex, original, and unpredictable enough that it's much more than a guilty-pleasure read. The format, along with the humor and romance, will draw Louise Rennison fans - and give them just as much flash, with a whole lot more substance.” – Horn Book, starred review

“This energetic novel reveals the author's keen understanding of teen dynamics and invites audience members to read between the lines to discover what makes each character tick. Containing elements of mystery, espionage, romance and revenge, Moriarty's story will likely satisfy hearty appetites for suspense and fun.” - Publishers Weekly

“Emily, and Cassie are longtime friends who share almost everything, especially the secret assignments that they have cooked up for one another in times of need since elementary school … The adventures of the friends are funny, exciting, and, at times, poignant as they deal with problems of growing up and developing relationships. This delightful book set in Australia is full of fun, engaging characters, and important messages about friendship.” – School Library Journal

“Moriarty managed an effective blend of the serious and the mundane: Emily’s father’s notes to his daughter, in the form of legal briefs and depositions, are wildly funny, Cassie’s dairy entries about her grief over her father’s death are poignant, and Lydia is a satisfyingly complex character whose creativity, energy and sensitivity mingle uneasily with her tendencies toward sarcasm and power-brokering. Between the love stories, the criminal activities, and the working-through of pain, there is a bit of something her for everyone.” – Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Who can resist Moriarty’s biting humor?” – Kirkus Reviews 

Purchase Options
Indiebound • Amazon • Barnes & Noble

Spring 2004
Young Adult Fiction
ISBN: 0-439-49881-3
Price: $16.95/$22.99
Trim Size: 5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Page Count: 352
Foreign Rights: Anderson/Grinberg
Translation Rights: Anderson/Grinberg
Rights Available? yes

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