Brett McCarthy lives for vocabulary words, soccer, and her larger-than-life grandmother, Nonna. Unfortunately, Brett’s got a big mouth she can’t seem to tame and opinions she can’t keep to herself. And she’s obsessed with the moment she became redefined and went from good student, bestfriend-to-Diane to twice-suspended, friendless, and deadest meat in Maine. Soon her world has turned upside down, and she’s not sure where she fits, what she should do, or how to make right what she, and her big fat mouth, have made wrong. Brett’s fresh and funny voice will keep readers laughing out loud at her plights, groaning in sympathy at every misstep, and rooting for her as things go from bad to worst ever possible.

by Maria Padian (Author)

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440240557
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440240556
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces


Editorial Reviews


Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, March 3, 2008:
“Forceful and heartwarming, this coming-of-age story examines what happens when old friends are outgrown and loved ones are no longer there to lean on.”Review, Parade, June 22, 2008:
“[A] hilarious coming-of-age story.” –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Maria Padian has worked as a commercial radio news reporter, an essayist for public radio, a press secretary for a U.S. Congressman, and a freelance writer. She lives with her children and husband, and an Australian shepherd, in Maine, where she is at work on a new novel.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1: InterloperI’ve been obsessed lately with trying to pinpoint the exact moment when I got redefined.That’s one of my grandmother’s favorite words. It basically means defined again. Define means to make clear; mark the limits of; identify the essential qualities or meaning of. Before my life changed from fairly decent to really bad, my self-definition was pretty straightforward.Brett McCarthy: Only Child; Only Granddaughter; Vocab Ace; Best Eighth-Grade Corner Kicker in Maine; Diane’s Best Friend.Then came the redefinition.Brett McCarthy: Deadest Meat in Maine and Possibly the Planet; Practically Friendless; Violent; Suspended.

Can you blame me for wanting to sort this out?

It all got started like any other day: at The Junior.

As in “Mescataqua Junior High School,” the big green letters on the front brick wall. Kit was the one who noticed that every morning Diane stood directly under the word “Junior.” Never under “Mescataqua,” never under “School.” But perfectly positioned between the “i” and “o” of “Junior,” leaning against the wall, her backpack slung over one slender shoulder.

Diane insisted she wasn’t doing it on purpose, but once Kit pointed it out, it got to be our thing. “See you at The Junior!” we’d say each afternoon, instead of “See you tomorrow!” Or “Meet me at The Junior!” if we planned to get together after school.

Diane, Kit, me, and (unfortunately) Jeanne Anne. Except for Jeanne Anne, the interloper, we’d known each other forever, from as far back as preschool. And even though we all had other friends outside the group, and sometimes got into really bad fights among ourselves, there was never any question about us. We were the first four chairs at the lunch table; the first four names on the Instant Messenger Buddy List; the first four numbers on speed dial.

Interloper: intruder; interferer. someone who moves to Mescataqua in seventh grade and attaches herself to your BFF.

Within the group, Diane Pelletier was my first and best friend, even though she’s nothing like me. For one thing, she’s beautiful. She has licorice-shiny, long black hair and lavender eyes. I have short frizzy hair that my mother describes as “strawberry blond.” That’s a nice term for “light brown with red highlights.” Trust me, it’s a noncolor.

Diane is really smart and really funny in a quiet way. I’m funny too, but in a loud, opinionated way. Diane can’t catch or kick a ball without injuring herself. I’m totally into sports. Diane looks great in clothes, and people tend to copy what she wears. I’m a wrinkle magnet and break out in a stress rash when I enter a mall.

Despite all this she was my best. We slept over at each other’s houses at least twice a month, talking all night. We agreed about most things. Except one. Diane was a little more tolerant and a lot more patient than I was when it came to jerks. Like Jeanne Anne.

For instance, on the morning of Monday, October 15th, she came rushing up to The Junior practically shaking with excitement. Kit was filling us in on what had happened during the previous night’s episode of her favorite TV reality drama.

“You guys!” Jeanne Anne burst out, interrupting the story. “You are not going to believe this!”

“Good, then don’t bother telling us,” said Kit. She had just been describing the giant, maggot-like insects that members of Team A, on the verge of starvation in Fiji, were probably going to eat on the next episode. Kit tends to share my opinion of Jeanne Anne, and assumed that whatever she had to say was less interesting . . . and more annoying . . . than maggots.

“No, really,” insisted Jeanne Anne. She faced Diane. “Diane, your telephone number is 555-1749, right?”

“Last time I checked.” Diane smiled.

“Okay,” Jeanne Anne said. She took one of her dramatic pauses. “Bob Levesque’s number is 555-1748.”

Blank stares. Silence. Finally broken by Kit.

“That’s really fascinating, Jeanne Anne. Now back to the maggots . . .”

“Aah!” Jeanne Anne cried in exasperation. “Hello, people! Am I the only one who realizes what an amazing coincidence this is?”

“Yes, you are,” replied Kit. The bell rang at this point, and we began moving toward the main entrance.

“Oh, c’mon!” Jeanne Anne pleaded. She was getting whiny now, and a little loud. People were turning to look at us. “Remember that thing you used to do with the phones? Don’t pretend this isn’t an awesome discovery!”

Even Diane realized it was time to shut her up. Broad- casting our old prank in the middle of the school lobby was not cool. Diane pulled Jeanne Anne close.

“Keep your voice down,” she hisssed. “We’ll meet at study hall and talk about it.”

Satisfied, Jeanne Anne smiled and headed off to her locker.

“Who told her about the Phone Thing?” I asked Diane as soon as Jeanne Anne was out of earshot. “And why is she looking up Bob Levesque’s telephone number?”

“Oh . . . you know her!” Diane shrugged. “She’s always crushin’ on someone.”

“She is a certifiable jerk. A complete idiot!” I sputtered.

I was upset. I get klutzy . . . and loud . . . when I’m upset. So the “idiot” came out with a bit more volume than necessary, and at the same time I managed to smash my size-nine sneakers down on someone’s toes.

“Ouch! Hey, watch it!”

The toes belonged to a pair of electric-blue eyes. The eyes went with some sun-bleached, tousled blond hair and perfect white teeth without a trace of orthodontia. In other words, I had just crushed the foot of none other than Bob Levesque, resident Greek God. And called him an idiot in the middle of a crowded hallway.

Bob looked at me and Diane, annoyed. Then, some- thing . . . either my comically guilty expression or Diane’s beautiful face . . . made him change his mind, because he grinned. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Visit Amazon’s Maria Padian Page Maria Padian


Maria Padian is an author of young adult novels as well as a freelance writer, essayist and former broadcast journalist. Her first novel, “Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress” (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008) was chosen by the ALA and YALSA as one of the Best Books for Young Adults in 2009 and also received a Maine Literary Award and Maine Lupine Honor Award. Her second novel, “Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best,” was published by Knopf in March, 2011. A third novel for young adults, “Out of Nowhere,” will be published by Knopf in February 2013.A graduate of Middlebury College and the University of Virginia, she has also attended Oxford University and the Bread Loaf Writers’ conference. Along with being a passionate, life-long reader, she is an avid gardener, tennis player, nordic skier and coffee drinker. She makes her home in Maine with her family and their Australian Shepherd.To learn more about Maria and her books visit