Lori froze. Maritza turned to look at her with perfectly made-up eyes. Her hair was fluffed high on top and cascaded down into long soft curls, as though a professional stylist had just put a finishing touch on it before pushing her on stage. Her vivid aqua blouse was neatly tucked into a pair of slim black jeans. Black boots completed the ensemble as neat as a pin. She must have grown six inches—tall and willowy. What had Amy said? A knockout? That was an understatement.
What could be more traumatic to a sixth grader than to have her best friend and neighbor move away?
The answer? To have that friend return in eighth grade, totally changed. But then, Lori Ann Layton doesn’t believe her former best friend has changed. Lori believes even though friend, Maritza Novales, is devastated by her parents’ divorce, and even though she now looks like a model for Seventeen Magazine — she’s still the same on the inside. After all, Lori knows Maritza better than anyone, or so she thinks. And now she sets about to prove it.
Lori is convinced her troubles stem from her father’s election to the school board. He pushed through a ruling for city-wide academic eligibility for sports participants at all schools. Four first-string football players at East Birch Jr. High, are off the team.
As editor of the East Birch Junior High newspaper (Panther Paw Prints), Lori needs interviews from the team. But team members are upset with her because of her father’s actions. Her friend, Amy, who is also on newspaper staff, says Lori should write an editorial saying she disagrees with the board’s decision. But Lori isn’t sure she is in disagreement with the ruling. It’s a confusing time in Lori’s life.
But then—insight and help come from the very person Lori least expects.