Best friends and seventh graders Sophie Young and Grace Yang have made a game out of spying on their neighbors. On one of their midnight stakeouts, they witness a terrifying, bloody scene at the home of their bizarre middle-school counselor, Dr. Charlotte Agford (aka Dr. Awkward).
At least, they think they do. The truth is that Dr. Agford was only making her famous pickled beets! But when Dr. Agford begins acting even weirder than usual, Sophie and Grace become convinced that she’s hiding something—and they’re determined to find out what it is.
Soon the girls are breaking secret codes, being followed by a strange blue car, and tailing strangers with unibrows and Texas accents. But as their investigation heats up, Sophie and Grace start to crack under the pressure. They might solve their case, but will their friendship survive?
Perfect for fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society, The Wig in the Window is a smart, funny middle-grade mystery with a REAR WINDOW twist.
Description taken from Goodreads.
Right from the very beginning, I loved how this book allowed for so much growth between Sophie and Grace. Spread throughout the course of this book are many different funny–and yet believable–situations. One thing that I’m starting to really appreciate in middle-grade fiction is quirkiness without ridiculousness, and it’s something that I continually found time and time again in THE WIG IN THE WINDOW. Not only does it maintain consistency and humor, it’s headed by two very different, strong female protagonists that I had a lot of fun with. While there are lots of fun “spy” bits that are a little less serious than fans of books like LAWLESS by Jeffrey Salane, there is also some realistic drama to this story that I didn’t feel was necessary, but still enjoyed due to it bringing out more in Sophie and Grace.
Not going to lie, I prepared myself for ridiculousness when I got to the part with Dr. Agford. There’s a few elements introduced there that I wasn’t sure I liked in the beginning. I don’t think that middle-grade readers will have a problem with it and eventually I drew to accept it, but there is some quirkiness there. Realistic (meaning it could happen), and it remained okay in my mind.
The only other problem I had with THE WIG IN THE WINDOW was the ending. I really wish there was a more solid punch there. So much of the book is funny while remaining realistic so I had high hopes for how Kristen Kittscher would end even though I could see it slowly going downhill as the pages thinned.
In the end, I would say that Kittscher is definitely an MG author to watch out for. I had a lot of fun reading her work and while the ending and a few key moments could have been pulled together a little more tightly, I think that this is one read that will be very fun and satisfying to it’s target audience and those above. The mystery built up very smoothly and I loved how the two main characters (as well as a few others) grew in this story. Overall, a very nice debut. 4 stars.
pg count for the hardback: 368