Book Review: "Access Denied (and other eighth grade error messages)" by Denise Vega

Computer whiz Erin Swift is ready to start eighth grade. The Year of Humiliating Events (aka, seventh grade) is behind her and she's ready to rule the school. But eight grade comes with its own set of problems for Erin to navigate, including her first boyfriend, her first break-up, and the fact that her mom has been treating her more like an eight year old than an eighth grader. Even worse, there's a new girl at Molly Brown Middle School who is determined to remake Erin in her bad-girl image, and former crush Mark "Cute Boy" Sacks has been acting strange lately.

But as Erin's school year once against hurdles toward disaster, a personal tragedy forces her to realize that things, and people, aren't always as bad as they seem. Can she save what's left of eighth grade before it's too late?

This was a really cute book to read. I'm always a bit wary of when adults try to talk in a teen's voice and computers are involved. For some reason, no matter how good the rest of the story is, the computer lingo always seems to be either dated or just plain off. It seems that a lot of adults have no idea how teens really act on the computer. Luckily this book had research done as teen web speak is done pitch perfect throughout the book. Sprinkled among the first person narrative is Erin's online blog with her secret thoughts and feelings. Included in every entry is her Hot O Meter of guys she thinks is smoking. I really loved when she got a crush on Jeff because her reaction is just spot on in regards to every girls who's had a crush on an older guy. The entire story brings me back to that age with a rush of feelings of what it was like to be back in middle school again.

Sometimes I did feel like I was missing out on past events that kept being brought up, but I suppose that's my fault for not reading the first book beforehand. What happened in seventh grade is referenced several times, but details are not described therefore leaving the reader in the dark until they read the previous story.
I think what I really liked best about this book was how realistically it portrayed a young teen girl growing up. The scenes involving Erin getting her period for the first time were done very tastefully, with humor and consideration and most readers will be able to relate to the feelings that run through Erin throughout the situation. It is not written in a crude way and is one of the few books that I've read that even mention the incident.

I would recommend this book for 7th graders and up. Teens will enjoy this book with a computer savvy main character who's both boy and technology crazy with a good heart. Looking forward to going back and reading the first of Erin's adventures.

Access Denied (and other eight grade error messages) by Denise Vega is published by Little Brown Young Readers (2009)


  1. I love the title of this book. By the way, I wouldn't know if the teen web speak was correct or not.

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