In junior high, it doesn't matter what you say or do but who you know-and who knows you.
Ask Benson Schmidt and Ryan Laughlin, because they live it every day. Their seventh grade lives are spent in the shadows of jocks, preps, and the rest of Westwood Junior High's popular set. But the wrath of an elite jock sets the ball in motion-once in their court, Benson decides it's time to take a shot, a real shot at social equality.
After years of lurking in the background, the two seventh graders devise a plan, Operation Cappuccino, to discover the secret flaws of the popular.
"Dating the captain of the football team, or being one, doesn't make you cuter or more
likely to succeed," Mrs. Mattingly, their publications teacher, explains. "Our goal is to expose what we see to those who don't."
When Benson and Ryan begin interviewing their media hungry upperclassmen, the results alter the course of the popular world. Cliques, hierarchy, and reputation are what bog down Westwood students on a daily basis. But two WJHS dregs with nothing to lose implement Operation Cappuccino to dissolve the belief every kid has been forced to accept: popularity rules.
"Nobody says we gotta be dregs forever, right?" Benson asks, after seeing a fellow dreg named Scooter spray milk through his nose.
And Benson offers a unique perspective-his older brother, Colin, is the golden boy of sports, popularity, and girls. With a shadow so vast, Benson hasn't seen daylight of his own in years. But the younger Schmidt has decided social status is a state of mind and sets out to prove it.
And the rest of Westwood Junior High will rock in its wake.
One teenager takes a high dive off the deep end, and he drags as many people along with him as possible. Westwood takes its place on an infamous list with Columbine, Red Lake, and Paducah. In the aftermath, stereotypes are cast aside, and for a short time, the barriers fall. Everyone looks equal dressed in black and mourning the loss of peers-death has a way of opening even the most privileged eyes.
Benson's world will never be the same, but for once in his life, he's in the middle of things, no longer a dreg, no longer a nobody.