230p. Scholastic. 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-41822-5.
Gr 6–8—Eighth-grader Windy isn't in the in crowd or the out crowd at her socially stratified San Antonio school; rather, she is relegated to the "general public" with the other nondescript students. Her friend Elena is happy to pursue her own interests (from figure skating to science experiments) without worrying about what others think, but Windy longs to climb the social ladder. She sees her chance when Nina, the cool new girl, befriends her. The girls bond over crushes and trips to the mall, but although Nina initially seems like a positive influence, raising Windy's confidence and encouraging her to stand up for herself, she eventually convinces Windy to become her "breath sister." This involves playing the choking game, in which one participant chokes the other until he or she passes out, achieving a sort of dizzy high in the process. Parts of Choke read like an afterschool special, and this lack of subtlety may be off-putting for more mature readers. However, the book does raise important issues, and many readers will sympathize with Windy as an everygirl who must make difficult decisions in the midst of intense social pressure.—Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

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