Mischa attends a prestigious private school near D.C., at great personal cost to her single mother. Mischa has done everything she is supposed to do, keeping up her grades, doing well on tests, and getting good letters of recommendation from her teachers. When college acceptance day rolls around, however, things go badly, and in the end, Mischa doesn't even get accepted by her fall back school. Her friend Nate is very supportive and tries to help, but Mischa doesn't want to disappoint her mother, so claims that she got into Paul Revere, just so she doesn't have to tell her. She's so upset that she even visits Revere and talks to an admissions officer, and when she is there, catches a glimpse of her transcript-- which has Ds on it! Since the lowest grade she ever got was an A-, in gym, Mischa starts to investigate. A group of girls in her school who like to dabble in hacking help her out, and they soon uncover (after much fun sleuthing!) a grade changing ring that rewards the students whose parents have donated a lot of money to the school and that penalizes students who do very well but are poor. Even though this ring affects Nate, with whom she has an increasingly close relationship, Mischa manages to team up with her arch nemesis to put things to right.
Strengths: This is blissfully middle grade appropriate, which I appreciated. Mischa is a great character who is focused and really wants to make her mother happy by being successful. Her mother, who has pushed her a bit, is completely understanding when she thinks Mischa has gotten into only Paul Revere. The romance with Nate is great, and the peek into the lives of the wealthy and privileged is fun. The hacking and spying is right up there with Carter's Gallagher Girls, but more realistic. I liked it so much that I am slightly sad I don't work in a high school so I could hand it to every reader who comes into the library. (But not really, because I love middle school!) Weaknesses: There is some borderline illegal activity, but it's essential for taking down the powers that are unfairly changing grades. There is also just a tiny bit of kissing, although to throw off a principal from finding out they had broken into the school to get records, one of the girls takes off her shirt, and there is also an Instagram account that is hacked and made to look like a girl is taking heroin. What I really think: This was so much fun, both the grade changing ring and the romance, and I really enjoyed it. I just don't think middle school students in my area will care all that much. I would definitely buy this for any high school library.
Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Library Media Specialist, Ohio USA
See more of her recommendations: msyinglingreads.blogspot.com
Read alike: Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter