- Wini Ashooh
Kerry Williamson is 15 years old and suddenly has been selected by three of the most popular girls in school to be a part of their group. In Richard Peck's book Three Quarters Dead, we meet Tanya, McKenzie, and Natalie, the three girls who rule the school and are the meanest girls around. Kerry is surprised by this sudden attention from these three who previously ignored her. They sit with her at lunch, they include her in their shopping expeditions, and she is invited to their party preparation meetings. Tanya is clearly the ring leader of the group. She is in charge of all the activities and the wardrobe decisions. While at lunch with Tanya, Kerry begins to notice that time seems to stand still and lunch goes on much longer than it has in the past although the clock has not stopped. There are several significant occurrences like this that Kerry notices but she is so happy to be part of the group that she ignores any signs that things may be weird.
While driving around with her new "friends" and delivering Halloween treats, Kerry finds herself outside the home of one of her classmates. Tanya tells her that she must enter the home and deliver a surprise to one more person. Not to worry Tanya says "no one is home." Kerry hesitates but because she doesn't want to disappoint her new friends she complies with Tanya's directive. What was supposed to be a silly prank (or was it?) turns into a mean spirited and dangerous activity. Was Kerry set up by her so-called friends? Well, they drive away and leave her there to deal with the consequences. Upon her return to school the next day, Kerry begins to question the validity of her friendship with these three girls.
Despite her better judgment, Kerry maintains a friendship with the cruel three girls. She is seduced by the thought of being part of the popular crowd. The evil activities continue and yet Kerry stays part of the group even though she questions their motives. Tanya, while on the cell phone, crashes the car she in driving into a tree. The three girls die. Kerry is left alone without her friends and feels lost. That is until she receives a cell phone call from Tanya instructing Kerry to come into New York City and meet the girls (Tanya, Natalie, and McKenzie) at Tanya's aunt's house.
This book from the veteran young adult author Richard Peck, examines the lengths that some teens will go to in order to be accepted and part of the "popular" crowd. The vulnerability of the teen world and the issues of self esteem are addressed here with a fantasy edge as Kerry is still manipulated by the "mean" girls beyond the grave. Peck has a good grasp of the complexities of the high school dynamics. He paints a harsh image of the effects of popularity and how some teens deal with it. The themes are contemporary and right out of the headlines with a supernatural twist.