Alt Ed by Catherine Atkins

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In order to avoid expulsion after committing various offenses, six very different high school students are required to meet with the school counselor, in a group, every Wednesday afternoon for a semester.

Susan Callaway, whose weight has kept her a shy, lonely outcast, narrates the story. Only Brendan, a gay classmate in the group, knows what landed her there. Susan is more than the sweet girl everyone thinks she is. She's had to cope with a lot more than anyone realizes. When the crank calls start-a male voice asking her to go out on a date-she's sure the calls were made by one of the guys in the group. But why is her brother never home when the calls come?

In her second novel, Atkins paints a gripping portrait of an overweight girl coming to terms with her father's estrangement, her brother's hostility, and the slow torture she's received at the hands of her classmates.

About Catherine Atkins

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Published April 14, 2003 by Putnam Juvenile. 198 pages
Genres: Children's Books, Gay & Lesbian, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Susan tentatively makes friends with Brendan, a gay boy who is also subject to peer torment, tries to figure out how to change her treatment at the hands of the world, and struggles to make emotional contact with her father.

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Publishers Weekly

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"Carefully nuanced connections between characters plus insight into the adolescent ability to use low self-esteem as a cruel weapon catapults this novel of troubled teens well above the familiarity of its trappings," said PW in a starred review.

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Publishers Weekly

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Fast forward in the next chapter to a year later, when Susan is in trouble and Mr. Duffy, school counselor ("aka Puffy, Doofy, Doofdork, and Lardass"), tells her he has saved her from expulsion by enrolling her in his Vocational Ed class with five other students in the same predicament.

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