Back Cover Summary[edit | edit source]
Mallory's bags are packed, and she's ready to go... to boarding school! Even though she's going to miss her friends in Stoneybrook, Mallory is definitely ready for change. And Riverbend Hall is a big change: no boys, no parents, and no baby-sitting. Still, there promises to be plenty of fun—if Mallory can fit in. All of the girls at Riverbend Hall have artistic talent—including Mallory's mean roommate. Mallory isn't sure she belongs. Has she made the right choice?
Summary[edit | edit source]
It's finally time for Mallory to leave Stoneybrook and head to Riverbend Hall, in Massachusetts. No more Spaz Girl, no more SMS...and no more BSC. She's excited but nervous as her parents drive her there and drop her off, but meeting Pam (her prefect and a senior at Riverbend) makes things a little better. She also meets and likes Smita, the other new 6th-grade student, at their orientation later that afternoon.
So far, so good...until the next morning. That's when Mallory's roommate, Alexis, gets back from winter break. Alexis is pretty intense, and right away, she starts spouting off all these rules for their room, without asking for Mallory's input. Then, Smita shows up with Sarah, a friend of hers. They invite Mallory to walk over to brunch with them but ignore Alexis. Mal asks if she'd like to come along, but Alexis says she's not hungry.
The next couple of days are pretty fantastic for Mal; she likes her classes, she likes her teachers, and she's fitting in well with the other students. Most of them, that is. Things haven't really improved on the roommate front. Mallory even comes back from class one day to find Alexis reading her journal. She complains to Sarah and Smita about the situation, and Sarah isn't surprised.
Mallory isn't Alexis's first roommate, and both of her previous ones had similar trouble. One of them actually left school, but the other, Jen, is still at Riverbend. Mallory makes plans to meet her at some point, but in the meantime, she just decides to avoid Alexis. That's tough to do in a small school, and Alexis makes it even tougher. She borrows Mal's things without asking, and she badmouths the girls that Mal is becoming friends with.
Mallory has to start staying away from the room until she needs to sleep in it, and Alexis manages to make her feel bad about that fact. Mal's friend encourages her to talk to Pam about it, but Mal doesn't want to be seen as a complainer. When Pam stops by Mal's room to ask her how things have been going, though, the whole story comes out. Pam suggests that Mallory have a talk with Alexis, which she does. At least, she tries to. Alexis manages to passive-agressively make it look like Mallory's the bad guy, they start arguing, and they don't get anywhere close to solving their problems.
Over the next few days, Mallory goes back to avoiding Alexis. Then, she gets a care package from the BSC, which Alexis demolishes when Mal is out of the room. Mallory gets Pam and shows her what her roommate did, and Pam calls both girls into a meeting with the dean of students. Alexis makes again makes it look like Mallory is totally at fault, and then stomps out of the room before the meeting ends.
The dean says she'll talk to the other administrators and come up with a solution to the problem. Mallory goes back to her room....and finds that Alexis has gone completely crazy and is trashing the place. Sarah arrives just then, and when she sees what's going on, she runs to get Pam. Alexis tries to apologize her way out of the situation, but it's a no go.
Mallory's friends help her clean up the mess, and by the time that the dean gets there to talk to Mal, the room is basically back the way it was. The dean apologizes for giving Mallory such a difficult roommate right off the bat and explains that she did so because she thought that Mal's experience with her big family would have helped her cope with someone like Alexis. She also offers Mal a possible solution: Jen, Alexis's other former roommate, is living in a single room. If she'd be willing to give that up and live with Mal, then Alexis could be put in a single and no one would have to deal with her. Luckily, Jen agrees to the switch, and it's a much better situation for everyone involved.
Meanwhile, Back in Stoneybrook, things are touchy at the Pike house. Now that Mal's gone, Vanessa has a room to herself. She's determined to keep it that way, but none of the other kids want to see that happen. In the end, Vanessa, Claire, Margo, and all of Mallory's stuff move into the room that the four boys used to share, Jordan and Adam move into Mal and Vanessa's old room, and Nicky and Byron move into Claire and Margo's old room.
Ann M. Martin's Dear Reader Letter[edit | edit source]
For several months, Mallory had been having problems fitting in at school. She’s a good student and she has friends in Stoneybrook, but she was unhappy and felt she didn’t fit in at SMS. Worse, she felt her teachers didn’t understand her.
The All-New Mallory Pike represents Mallory’s successful struggle to find her place in school, even though it means changing schools altogether. Mallory’s decision to leave Stoneybrook may have been surprising, but sometimes you just need a big change. I didn’t go away to school until college, but when I did, I remember the exhilarating feeling of being able to start fresh. There’s nothing like a chance to make all-new friends, meet all-new teachers, and try on an all-new life. It was a very exciting time.
Mallory’s solution to her problems might not work for everyone, but it was the best choice for her.