Review of The Great Greene Heist

johnson_great green heiststar2 The Great Greene Heist
by Varian Johnson
Middle School    Levine/Scholastic    236 pp.
5/14    978-0-545-52552-7    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-545-52554-1    $16.99

Who knew a student council election could get so complicated? After pulling off a few legendary middle-school pranks, Jackson Greene has sworn off his scheming ways. But he gets pulled back in, in order to help Gaby de la Cruz — Jackson’s “ex-friend, who happens to be a girl who wasn’t your girlfriend but who could have been your girlfriend if you hadn’t got caught kissing” another girl — who is running for student council president against spoiled, cocky Keith Sinclair. The third-person point of view allows readers to witness the various shenanigans, including Keith’s shady deal with Principal Kelsey. But not so fast. Gang Greene is on the scene. Like Danny Ocean in Ocean’s Eleven, Jackson assembles a crack team of accomplices to take down Keith and, in the process, become legends at Maplewood Middle School. Jackson is a brilliant con man, and it’s refreshing to read a story about middle-school life that’s smart, complicated, and funny, with a cleverly constructed plot and a sweet relationship between a boy and a girl. (Jackson likes Gaby because she’s pretty, she’s a great basketball player…and she can pick a lock.) The lively (and racially diverse) cast of characters and the intricate plot will make this a story to read again for the sheer fun of it all.

From the July/August 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches eighth grade English at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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