Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Thursday, December 4, 2014


I'm supposed to be working on a speech I'll give on Sunday. I'm supposed to be finishing off the Christmas decorating, checking lists, buying gifts, making 65 little presents to give out Sunday, or working on my honey badger book. I have a slush pile of books to read a mile long.

But Betsy Love's book THE PENNY PROJECT totally jumps the queue. I really want to finish the book I'm already reading, but something speaks to me when my friend Wes hands me the book with a quirked eyebrow.

At first I'm thinking kids can't be that continuously mean. But then I remember my sojourn on the geek throne at the front of the bus. I wore ugly, calf-length skirts at a time when everyone else wore miniskirts or jeans. Not only was I four-eyed, clumsy, plain, and lousy at math, but I had a dad who taught German and English. Every time he flunked someone (daily, it seemed like) they'd come after me. They'd corner me in the bathroom or against the lockers and beat the tar out of me. They'd call me names a dock worker would be proud of. Back then I cried. Or sat alone on the bus and memorized the dictionary. Or stared out the window and vowed to give up talking forever.

Now I know I can take them. Back then, the hatred worked like poison inside me, and I'm amazed now that I never had an ulcer. I chalk that up to ballet and books and the love of a kind Heavenly Father. Words, always my friends, always stood by to take me to Mars or Oz or Narnia or Middle Earth and dancing set my body free.

Penelope doesn't have much of an outlet. I at least had a few fellow geeks who would let me hang with them at lunch. At first Penelope has no one. But one two many distancing strategies backfire for brilliant, hunky football-player Jake and his teachers force him to tutor the ugliest, stupidest, smelliest girl in school. Instead of Lexi, his crush, he gets double helpings of Penny.

And boy do his teammates let him have it. They bully the pair so consistently that it's a wonder the teachers rarely get a clue (which is also believable). He has to become a hero and save them both. Luckily Jake is, while cocky at first, a good person at heart. He has much to learn and Penny has much to teach.

I really actually fell in love with this book. It spoke to me on an intrinsic level. I got both Jake's longing to be "in" with Lexi and the team, and the basic empathy he keeps buried until Penny's gift unearths it. Jake finally learns that outer ugliness is only skin deep and can be remedied. Inner ugliness is a blight much harder to cure.

Do yourself a favor and pick up THE PENNY PROJECT this Christmas. You'll be glad you did. You can get it here.

1 comment:

  1. My kindle is so full of books I don't have time to read them, but I'm always looking for another! I'll check it out!