304p. Turner. Nov. 2018. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781684421947.
Gr 9 Up—An engaging, complex heroine with an intriguing love of fashion and paleontology enables this story to succeed despite its less-than-credible plot. Natalie is a rising high school junior who, despite years of enduring fat jokes and cruel pranks, manages to hide her insecurities behind an easygoing, confident demeanor. She has learned to use body sculpting undergarments, flattering clothing, and makeup to redefine herself. Armed with a daily mantra of "be awesome," Natalie authors a popular blog that is part fashion and completely "paleo geek." This summer she has won an internship at the Central Texas Mammoth Site where she'll get hands-on experience working with fossils. Dressed to the nines, she heads off to follow in the footsteps of her paleontologist idol, Dr. Thomas Carver. Unfortunately, she's failed to account for the wilting Texas heat, the need for practical shoes, or the possibility of a summer romance. To her additional surprise, her fellow intern and roommate is the petite, cynical daughter of her idol. It doesn't take long to discover that there's a dark side to her desired profession that, devastating to Natalie, is personified by Dr. Carver and threatens the site where she's interning. Natalie determines to make the most of this opportunity, though, by using her considerable smarts, talent, and newfound daring. Sadly, her willingness to risk everything to unearth a rare fossil comes at an unexpected cost. In the end, she begins to recognize her intelligence and bravery as her defining qualities, and this revelation boosts her self-confidence and minimizes her preoccupation with her weight.
VERDICT Science, fashion, and romance combine in this adventure with lots of appeal. A general purchase.

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