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What Gloria Wants

by Sarah Withrow

What does almost-14-year-old Gloria Nunes really want? As her exasperatingly bossy best friend Shawna sees it, Gloria’s smart, nice, pretty, and “growing a set of killer boobs.” But from Gloria’s perspective, having a friendship that doesn’t depend on Shawna’s always being in control, having her own room (and cell phone), and, perhaps most importantly, being accepted for who she is would do nicely.

But that all changes when school hunk Mark Le Clare makes a move on Gloria, turning her life totally upside down. Now she’s noticed at school, she has power and position as Mark’s girlfriend, and even Shawna has to change her tune. But is having a boyfriend all it’s cracked up to be? With Mark calling all the shots just as Shawna did, Gloria begins to lose her own sense of herself. He’s a great kisser, but is that enough? When rumours about Mark start circulating, Gloria is sure they can’t be true. But when Mark turns out to be just as nasty as purported, Gloria finds out how important it is to be true to yourself – with the help of your real friends.

What Gloria Wants is one of those spot-on portraits of the vicissitudes of the end of childhood. What works best is that the truth about Mark is there right from the start, but readers won’t want to see the clues any more than Gloria does. The supporting characters are also wonderfully drawn – from the ever-bossy Shawna to new schoolmate Tina (who might be a lesbian), and even possible-boyfriend-in-the-wings Tiziano, not to mention Gloria’s parents and younger sister.

Withrow’s wonderfully quirky novel will help readers realize that what we think we want isn’t always what we really want.