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i am the wallpaper    by Mark Peter Hughes order for
i am the wallpaper
by Mark Peter Hughes
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Mark Peter Hughes' star in i am the wallpaper is thirteen-year old Florence (Floey) Packer, who lives in the shadow of her older sister. Lillian is popular, attracts friends 'like bees to a hive', and is pretty, personable, with pizazz. Upon graduation from high school, Lillian will be moving on. Helmut has proposed to her, and the newly-married couple plan a month-long honeymoon. Unfortunately, Aunt Sarah and her mischievous children, Richard and Tish, will attend the wedding. The cousins will be staying with Ma and Floey for three weeks, while Aunt Sarah goes off on an esteem-building seminar. There goes Floey's hoped-for personal space!

It has been many years since Auntie has visited, which is made obvious when Floey's birthday gift from Sarah is a much-too-small training bra. Her friend Azra takes a photo of Floey holding the trainer to her developed chest, and mails it to Aunt Sarah. Sadly this isn't the end of that subject as the reader learns in this delightfully witty read. Floey writes in her diary, 'Wallpaper, thy name is Floey', and about the bridesmaid dress, 'I felt like a troll in a doily'. Floey's problems compound from page to page, including an unauthorized website '', the posting of her training bra picture, and her diary entries. Talk about mortification! And, boy is Floey determined to get even.

Floey's committed to making changes in her persona, such as writing haiku, studying Zen Buddhism, coloring her hair wild violet, and wearing a vintage fedora, black skirt, red scarf, and sunglasses. Boyfriends enter, exit, and re-enter, according to how Floey perceives they look at her, and what they say or don't say to her, but commitment is never mentioned. Both she and Azra have a crush on long-time, cute friend Wendell, and made a pact to not hurt each other by claiming him as a boyfriend. Floey meets Oklahoman-born, fifteen-year old Calvin at the wedding. Others come and go - like jock Dean Eagler, an Elvis Presley look-alike, who invites Floey to her first party, held while his parents are away.

Mark Peter Hughes makes a sparkling debut, alternating text and diary entries, and insightful of the trials of adolescence. He gives us a story about feelings, finding out that some people really aren't what one thinks they are, and that even best-friend relationships can go astray, causing heartache. i am the wallpaper is a remarkable read.

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