January 09, 2015

Something Wiki

by Suzanne Sutherland
160 pp.
Ages 9-12
For release January 3, 2015

While the title Something Wiki may suggest that there's something wicked, there really isn't, unless, of course, you count going through puberty and all that it entails: skin breaking out, body image issues, first crushes, changing friendships, parent issues, etc.  Okay, so puberty is pretty wicked.  But the "wiki" in the title refers to twelve-year-old (almost 13!) Jo Waller's use of Wikipedia as a diary, allowing her to share her feelings by amending entries that relate to her situation.  She adds her personal touch to entries about acne, ambush, hairdresser, and friendship, among the many that kick off each new chapter in Something Wiki, always knowing that her edits will satisfyingly disappear almost as soon as she finishes them.

Too bad the problems of growing up can't disappear as easily as revised wiki entries because there's a lot going on for Jo, and much of it she cannot control.  Because Jo sees herself as a short, chunky, geeky girl with glasses and zits, she tends to compare herself to others, specifically her friends:  pretty, best friend Stacey, musical Trisha and the smart, ginger-haired Chloe.  But she's starting to feel out of sync with them, especially when she learns Stacey has lied to her in order to hang out with Chloe alone.  Those she used to rely on for support seem to be turning on her.  Add to that the domestic chaos brought about by the return home of her 24-year-old brother Zim with his girlfriend Jenevieve who is pregnant, and Jo's parents refusal to include their youngest in their home situation.  And then there's cutie Declan Walsh who intensifies the pandemonium.

Suzanne Sutherland has made Something Wiki into Jo's coming-of-age story, demonstrating that everything in the life of a pubescent girl may seem twisted and knotted but, with time and some effort at disentanglement, a new order can arise.  The wickedness of losing friends, unfair accusations, bad haircuts, bad skin, and feeling discounted can be endured when their absurdity in the big picture is realized.  Suzanne Sutherland gives Jo the ability to see the ridiculousness in her life.
These days I just want to sleep. I'd be happy if I could sleep all day....
It won't work, though. I drool in my sleep. 
As if I needed to look any uglier. (pg. 127)
Yep, the regular fries of teen angst–bad enough for the skin–becomes poutine courtesy of Suzanne Sutherland: far richer and flavourful. 

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