Bindy Mackenzie is the smartest – and kindest – girl at Ashbury High. She likes to share her knowledge of common teen anxieties and offers lunchtime advisory sessions in a relaxed setting (the locker room). But then Bindy discovers that, despite all her hard work, NOBODY LIKES HER! It’s time to banish benevolent Bindy – and release ruthless Bindy instead.
Bindy records every moment of her new rebellious life in a project – from The Philosophical Musings of Bindy Mackenzie to extracts from her essays. But her scrapbook is also the key to a bizarre mystery – with Bindy herself at the centre. Only her friends can help her now. If only she had some.
Rereading Becoming Bindy Mackenzie, by Jaclyn Moriarty, was such a good choice. I was still in high school last time I read it (5 years ago. This is always frightening to realise.), and I was a little nervous that it wouldn’t withstand the grown-up test.
I needn’t have worried. It totally does.
The thing it’s important to realise about Bindy is that she is almost unbearably annoying.
She’s also totally real. She’s that kid from school – the one who is just too… everything. Too enthusiastic, too smart, too friendly with the teachers. The kind of kid who made my sixteen-year-old self cringe. I was a painfully quiet kid and couldn’t help but ask myself why people like Bindy didn’t realise their life would be so much easier if they would just fly under the radar? No one can be mean to you if you never open your mouth.
Important note: I don’t think this way anymore. Now my view – in the words of Amy Poehler – is as follows: Do your thing. Don’t care if they like it.
(some things get better when you’re a grown up.)
Bindy is the kid who approaches her classmates as if they are subjects in an experiment. And later, after they reject her, like a rival army. Both have the singular effect of pissing people off. A large part of Bindy Mackenzie’s becoming is the realisation that perhaps the classmates she has judged from a distance are actually a lot more complicated than she’s given them credit for.
‘And I’ve been thinking about how said you’ve tried to change and see the positive things in us, instead of being critical. So you sent us those memos giving us ‘good animals’. I guess I’m thinking that that was nice of you, and you were trying hard, but there’s not much difference between deciding what’s bad and deciding what’s good. Either way it’s judging people.’
Jaclyn Moriarty really knows how to use perspective. Throughout the book, Bindy laments her tendency to get caught up in reverie – the girl has personal stationary for her ‘philosophical musings’, after all. She wants to understand the world, but is irretrievably caught inside her own head. She thinks she has all the answers. Then one night on a school trip she leaves her computer unattended and the messages her peers type to her crack her whole world open. I love how Moriarty used the sometimes pretty silly messages Bindy’s friends typed on her computer to demonstrate that, oftentimes, the only real cure for reverie is a fresh perspective.
Then there is the murder-ey side of things. In some countries, this book is called The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie. I won’t say much, because you want to go into this spoiler free, but I will say that the thriller aspect of the thing is subtly executed. Were it not for the blurb, and in some countries, the title, you might not even realise something bad is happening the Bindy until almost all the way through.
Twists happen. Almost everyone falls under suspicion.
It’s fun to connect the dots.
This is the definition of Fun Summer Read.