ISBN 0380755440 - For the message, Secret Wishes probably deserves a higher rating, but there were other, somewhat surprising things that made me think twice.
Margo has always wanted to be a cheerleader. The trouble is, Margo's a little fat. When her grandmother suggests that the two of them pursue their secret wishes, Margo agrees. She helps her grandmother walk again, despite the doctor's opinion that that might never happen after the car accident. In return, her grandmother helps Margo to eat better, exercise more and lose weight. At the end of the summer, Margo is in shape and looking forward to cheerleader tryouts in the spring. She's in for a surprise, though, when cheerleading starts early this year - the first week of school!
The new coach has expanded the number of cheerleaders on the squad and has lots of big plans, so when Margo makes the team she finds her hands full just trying to keep up. And Miss Cole's "anything for your sisters" mantra isn't really helping matters. Now Margo's being asked to help other girls on the squad to cheat in classes so that they can stay on the squad, and the guilt is really getting to her. To top it off, she doesn't have anyone to talk to, because she never has time to see any of her friends anymore. How much is she willing to sacrifice for the chance to be a cheerleader?
The "do the right thing" message is great. That the principal eventually takes notice and does something is good. That the kinda snobby, super-cheerleader is named Brandy Wine is hilarious. But there's no resolution to the party at which booze is served and a porn film is shown; these kids are eighth graders, there are adults present and no one is ever caught or punished. That might be realistic, but it's a bad message. I also found it unlikely that Margo's brothers wouldn't have beaten up Kenneth after his near-assault on Margo, and was disappointed that, in all the making up and doing the right thing at the end, Margo never made up with her brother after their fight - but some loose ends are no big deal.
On a final, picky note, I was surprised to read that these eighth grade girls would be learning how to do a cartwheel; I don't know any 5 year old who doesn't know how to do a cartwheel! Overall, it's a good story with some questionable themes for the 8-12 crowd.