by Wendelin Van Draanen
Sammy Keyes is 13. She has to sneak into her house because her mother dumped her on her grandmother and they live in a old-person home where no children are allowed. She gets to deal with Heather Accosta, the 7th grade bully. Sammy is also kind of a detective. Not that she goes looking for trouble, she just always happens to be there when it happens.
The first in the series, Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief starts off with a bang. Well, more like a wave. Sammy, through a pair of binoculars, watches a man stealing money out of a purse in a hotel room across the street. The thief looks up, sees her, and she panics and waves at him.
I listened to this book as I cleaned, and I found I enjoyed it so much I actually found extra little things to clean, so I could listen longer. Sammy is delightful. She gets in lots of trouble, and she's a fairly thoughtless teenager a lot of the time (I hate the way she treats her Gram, though she does usually feel bad about it), but she's clever and funny. If I had read her as a kid I am sure that I would have wanted to be Sammy. I always wanted to be Nancy Drew, and Sammy really is a lot more realistic (though I will always love Nancy).
I also love Sammy's Gram. What a fun adult to have raise you. Too bad it's not under better circumstances.
The second book, Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man begins a bit scarier. It's halloween and Sammy along with her friends Dot and Marissa go to the spooky Bush House to knock and run. But when they get there they are nearly run over by a man dressed in a skeleton costume. Sammy and her friends end up finding the "Bush man" tied up and unconscious. On top of trying to help the Bush man, Sammy is also dealing with drama at school. Heather Accosta has convinced one of the most popular boys in school that Sammy is in love with him, and Sammy is after revenge.
This one was just as fun as the first. There's a real strong anti-smoking theme throughout, but it's done in a way that doesn't really feel overwhelming.
Sammy's method of revenge against Heather is pretty awesome. I can't imagine having the courage to do it, but I would like to wish I would have.
Sammy is a fun listen. I hope my library has all of the books on CD (I think there are 10 out) because the reader is fabulous. If not, I will definitely be picking up the books!