Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
Bernetta Wallflower knows two things: 1) a lot of stuff about magic since her father owns a magic club known as Trunk Number Eight, and 2) people who appear to be your friends can turn on you and leave you with nothing.
Accused of running a cheating ring in her private school, Bernetta finds herself without a scholarship to Mount Olive for next year. Because of her problems at school, she is also grounded for the entire summer. She needs $9,000 in her bank account if she hopes to return to Mount Olive for seventh grade, and babysitting appears to be the only thing she is qualified to do. Then Bernetta meets Gabe, a self-professed con artist, and he offers to cut her in on the action he has planned for the summer.
Using the sleight-of-hand skills she has learned at her father's magic club and her natural acting talents, Bernetta joins forces with Gabe to earn some serious money. Instead of reporting to her fake babysitting gig, Bernetta meets Gabe at the mall where they begin running scam after scam to earn the money she needs to replace her lost scholarship. After all, it's for a good cause, so how could anyone object?
Everything seems to be going smoothly until Ashley Johansson shows up. She is to blame for Bernetta's trouble at school and the suspended scholarship, and now here she is threatening even more trouble. Can Bernetta get what she needs and still find a way to live with her actions? One thing she does learn is that everyone has more than one option in life; it's just about which option you choose.
Lisa Graff's THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF BERNETTA WALLFLOWER is a whirlwind adventure in petty crime and accepting the consequences of one's decisions. Graff begins each chapter with a new magic term, and readers will be fascinated with the description of well-known cons used by Bernetta and Gabe. Bernetta's story is sure to entertain, but at the same time present readers with challenging questions about doing the right thing.