This book review is part of series of reviews written by students at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School for their 7th grade English classes.
Have you ever been transformed into an insect in a sticky situation? In E. Lockhart’s book Fly on the Wall, the main character Gretchen Yee is accidentally turned into a fly and is trapped in a locker room at Ma-ha, the Manhattan school for art. I have never been to Manhattan, but the E. Lockhart makes me feel like I was whisked away through her book that I could not put down. I really liked the book because of Gretchen Yee, because we both have similar interests and similar problems. One of the themes I noticed was ‘draw how you want to,’ like how Gretchen’s teacher would rather her draw in a different style than her current style.
Gretchen Yee stands by the trains conversing with her friend Katya, when suddenly she comes to a realization. Then she says to Katya, “‘I wish I was a fly on the wall of the boys’ locker room,’ I say” (66). The next day, she somehow magically transforms into a fly exactly how she wished it. Now, Gretchen has to spend possibly forever as a fly in the boys’ locker room!
Mainly in human form, Gretchen is my favorite character because she and I both like to draw and both of us would rather draw the way we want to instead of having people change our technique because they think their style is right. My mother always wants me to paint landscape pictures of the ocean or mountains, and Gretchen’s teacher wants her to draw with soft lines instead of comic-book style.
One of the things that I thought about in this book was a person who was given all the tools necessary to do whatever they wanted to do, but was not allowed to use those tools. She wants to draw how she feels she should, but is restricted by her art teacher. “‘Gretchen,’ she goes on, ‘I thought I made it clear that I can’t judge your progress if you continue to draw in this stylized manner. It’s been obvious since the beginning that you’ve got an admirable command of human musculature’ -another laugh- ‘but you’re not going to develop your own style if you keep imitating the hacks who draw for the Marvel Corporation.'” (45-46). Another thing was she wants to do is get into a relationship with someone named Titus, but feels nervous when another boy by the name of Shane hangs around. The book bombards Gretchen with conflict after conflict which keeps the story moving.
One of the main problems I had with this book was the language. This book may have been captivating, but the swearing level was too great for my preference. There was also in-depth detailed verbal description of male body parts I shouldn’t mention. Lastly, there were a lot of insults to those in a homosexual relationship. I did not find this insulting because I am not homosexual, but it was distasteful. These three issues were the main problems with this book. Others may find the book reasonable, but be aware of distasteful parts.
Overall, the book was captivating and relatable because of the problems and hobbies of Gretchen Yee. Although there was some swearing and some other problems like that, I still enjoyed the book and I still believe that you should draw your own style. I would rate this book four stars and recommend it to anyone who likes to draw, is comfortable with swearing and mature topics, and especially to anyone who wants to find out if Gretchen becomes a human or must stay as a fly forever.
-Blake S., 7th grade