Author Valerie Frankel introduces readers to Adora Benet in Fringe Girl (2005). Adora resides on the fringe of things in Brownstone Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, New York. She has friends but is not the most popular girl in her class. Her family fares well financially, but she is not excessively wealthy. Adora certainly is not ugly, but she definitely is not the most beautiful girl in her school either. She thus accepts her middling place in the social strata but not happily. After Adora got a bad haircut years ago, she was nicknamed "Fringe Girl" by Sondra Fortune, the most popular girl in school. The nickname stuck and proved to be prophetic.
Adora's social studies teacher, Mr. Sagebrush, challenges students to apply what they have learned in his class about the three stages of bloodless revolutions to a term-long project. First, they must undermine the government. Next, they must present the masses with an alternative form of leadership. Finally, they must garner the support of the masses.
Adora decides to up-end the schools' social hierarchy and, to her surprise and the surprise of her peers, she is successful. Adora has the unflinching support of her friends Eli and Liza as she stages her bloodless coup. In the process of overthrowing the social elite, Adora learns that popularity and social status can sometimes be lonely. Adora successfully makes writing for the school newspaper cool and encourages her peers to express themselves through their hairstyle and clothes rather than conform.
In spite of her best efforts, Adora disappoints Eli and Liza. In the process, she learns an important lesson about the value of true friendship. And despite the fact that her parents are self-help gurus who have written a series of books about love and romance, Adora still manages to fall for Mr. Wrong not once but twice.
Adora learns the hard way that perhaps her place on the fringe of things was preferable to popularity after all.
Valerie Frankel has penned six novels, including Fringe Girl's three sequels—Fringe Girl in Love, American Fringe, and Fringe Benefits. Although the series is geared toward teens and tweens, its plot will certainly resonate with adults as they recall their own high school experiences.