Fly On the Wall

Title: Fly on the Wall
Author: E. Lockhart
Pub Date: 2006
Pages: 182Genre: YA (high school) Fiction
Challenges: YA, 100 +
Rating: 5/5

Teenager, Gretchen Yee, is one of the few privileged to attend a fine arts school in Manhattan her high school years. At least that's how it was marketed to her - a privilege. She didn't realize that she would be too odd even for the Art Rats. Gretchen just doesn't understand them, and although she's pretty envious over their friendship with one and another, she prefers sitting by herself during lunch drawing her Spider-Man comics. Her life begins to unravel when she finds out her parents are separating, her best friend (Katya) is hanging out with the Art Rats more, and she just doesn't understand her boy crush, Titus. Oh, not to mention they're stuck reading Kafka's Metamorphosis, which totally does not interest her and she finds it difficult to keep up with the reading. In exasperation she wishes that she could be a fly on the wall in the boys locker room.
My thoughts:
This book rocked my world. It was a quick read, mainly because it captivated me so quickly. I stayed up way past my bedtime (on a school night, even!) to finish it.
The book is divided up into three parts: part one, Gretchen being a normal angsty teenager; part two, Gretchen as (you guessed it) a fly on the wall; and part three, Gretchen with a new perspective on life. I was also keen on the idea that the author had Gretchen reading Metamorphosis prior to her transition into the fly world. Maybe a little obvious, but how neat if some 9th grader picks up Kafka because of this.
Lockhart truly captures the curiosity of a sophomore girl in the boys locker room, free from accountability. You can guess what interests Gretchen the most as the boys start strolling in. It takes her a moment to realize it, but they're eventually going to be nude! Gretchen spends the first day inspecting (purely out of adolescent curiosity, of course) all of the boys' gherkins (which her and her friends fondly call the male part). She makes an offhand remark days later that she's seen all types of gherkins now and does not understand why they're so impressive.
Fly on the Wall is not one of those books that I necessarily feel showed me a different perspective; it's not original in the coming of age discoveries. Still, it's told so well that I couldn't help but give it a 5 out of 5.
I've seen Lockhart's name mentioned a couple of times in the book blogging world and I kept overlooking her works. I only read this one because it was given to me from a teaching store for free. Unfortunately I'm not going to be able to put it on my bookshelves in the classroom because the discussion of 'gherkins' is just a bit too detailed for my 7th graders. I will, however, be passing it along to some high school colleagues. (Oh, and check out her bio - how cute, she lists 21 things about herself beyond her web page biography). And her blog can be found here.
I'm excited about reading Lockhart's other works. Have you? And if so what'd ya read?


  1. I do like the sound of this. I also like that it is a quick read which I could use to make my book numbers up.

  2. Glad you enjoyed this. I've read How to Be Bad, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and The Boyfriend List, and I would recommend all three. I'll add this one to my list.

  3. I've heard excellent things about her as well. I have both this and Frankie on my wishlist and I'll really looking forward to reading them.

  4. Scrap girl - You know YA books always help with my numbers! I keep telling myself the moment I hit my goal of 100+ in a year, I won't be so obsessed with the amount anymore. :P

    Charley - thanks for the rec's. I love her voice and can't wait to read the others.

    Nymeth - I'm adding the others on my wishlist as we speak. :)

  5. Sounds like a great book! Thanks for posting about it!

    Beth Fehlbaum, author
    Courage in Patience, a story of HOPE..
    Ch. 1 is online!


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