Fly on the Wall by Emily Lockhart

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Fly on the Wall by Emily Lockhart

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Subtitled How one girl saw EVERYTHING, Gretchen Yee turns into a fly on the wall of the boys' locker room. An amusing look at love, lust, friendship and, er, gherkins. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: May 2008
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0552556248

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Gretchen Yee is a pupil at the Manhattan School for Art and Music – that's Ma-Ha to you and me – and it's the place where everybody is different and special. In most schools people try to conform, to blend in with the crowd, but it is so definitely not like that at Ma-Ha. Gretchen is half Chinese and half Jewish but that's not enough in cosmopolitan New York and she suffers from being, well, ordinary.

As if that wasn't enough of a burden she has problems at home. By the time that her parents get round to telling her that they're divorcing it's obvious that they've known about it for some time. All the living arrangements are sorted out and she's presented with a fait accompli. At school her best friend seems to be too busy to spend any time with her and she spends most her time on her own. There's one boy she particularly likes but she doesn't do anything about it and she hits an all-time low when her father goes off on a business trip and her mother goes on holiday. Left on her own, sixteen-year-old Gretchen wishes that she could be a fly on the wall of the boys' locker room so that she could understand what they really talk about.

Next morning she wakes and stretches her legs – all of them and not just the two that she thought she had – and then there's the small matter of those wings. The setting's a bit confusing too until she realises that she must be in the boys' locker room.

This really shouldn't work, you know, but it does. It's skilfully done. Gretchen's not sexually experienced so what happens in the locker room is something of a revelation to her, in more ways that one. She discovers lust (as opposed to love) for the first time and recognises that it's possible to lust for a body whose owner you might not particularly like and she becomes quite an expert in, er, gherkins.

I've seen them pee, I've seen them waggle, I've even seen them hanging out with – shall I say – a certain degree of enthusiasm.

It's not just about the male body, though. It's about relationships. Gretchen realises that she has to allow best friend Katya the space to be who she is and that she isn't going to lose her father just because her parents are divorcing. It's a book thankfully free of the contrived happy ending where her parents miraculously rediscover their love for one another. It's realistic. Shit happens. People get bullied and reporting it to the teacher doesn't always work out for the best – and sometimes you're surprised at the way people really are when no one's looking. Except that fly on the wall, that it.

Above all it's a book about being who you are, about deciding what you want and what is right for you. It's about standing up for what – and who - you believe in.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag. I read it through in one sitting – not because I had the time but because I couldn't put it down. I'd love to know more about Gretchen Yee – for an ordinary girl she has an awful lot going for her.

If this book appeals (and it should, it should) then have a look at another book by the same author where you'll find some more recommendations for similar books.

Buy Fly on the Wall by Emily Lockhart at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fly on the Wall by Emily Lockhart at

Buy Fly on the Wall by Emily Lockhart at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fly on the Wall by Emily Lockhart at


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