383 pages, published 2003
Dear Brooker Kid [...]
My name is Cassie.
[...] I'll tell you something else that I find funny and that is this: counselling. I went to see a counsellor with my mother last night. You might think that's kind of a private thing to reveal in a letter to someone like you, who I've never even met, but you must be forgetting what counselling it. It's where you TELL A STRANGER ALL ABOUT YOURSELF. So telling you that I've been to see a counsellor is nothing. You're not a stranger. You're a Brooker Kid. (p. 25-6)
Eat shit and die, private school slag.
Matthew Dunlop (p.32)
Emily, Lydia and Cassie are best friends and students at the prestigous private school, Ashbury High. When they learn that their English teacher, Mr. Botherit, is instituting a mandatory year 10 penpal program with the neighbouring school, Brookfield High (a school you "can't get in ... unless you have a criminal record", 17), they are less than pleased. They have more important things to worry about than writing to the criminal Brooker kids, things like skipping school to go to the movies, working on becoming a famous novellist and helping Cassie cope with her father's recent death.
Mandatory does, however, mean mandatory and the girls are issued their penpals: Charlie, Seb and Matthew. Despite initial first impressions (ranging from bemusement to downright loathing) the pairs manage to find something to talk about: Emily teaches Charlie how to date a girl (in order to steal away the beautiful Christina); Lydia and Seb engage in a a round of one-up-manship through their "secret assignments"; and Cassie and Matthew find someone with which to talk over their heartache.
The problem with letter writing, however, is that you can never be entirely too sure who it is you're talking to, and when the penpals decide to meet up, they are met with mixed results. The Matthew of her letters is not exactly the young man Cassie meets. In fact, there is no 'Matthew Dunlop' enrolled in Brookfield High at all. Who is he? And what does he want? Is the hatred between the two schools that hard to overcome, and will Cassie manage to hold herself together?
Told entirely through letters, emails, and announcements, Finding Cassie Crazy is a quick and engaging read. Each of the characters have a strong personality that comes through in their letters and I laughed and cried along with them. 4/5