Summer & Books: 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

Inspired by the A to Z Blogging Challenge this past April, I have decided to blog about books for the month of June. I will be sharing tidbits about my own books and the other books on the Catholic Teen Books website.

Book 2 in the Bird Face series. “The story goes beyond its catchy title to tackle serious issues relevant to teens, such as forming healthy relationships, living in a blended family, and coping with an elderly loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease.” ~ Kirkus Review

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status by Cynthia T. Toney

About the Book:

“Without knowing or caring where I’d wind up, I sneaked out of the house and took off running.”

Wendy Robichaud is on schedule to have everything she wants in high school: two loyal best friends, a complete and happy family, and a hunky boyfriend she’s had a crush on since eighth grade–until she and Mrs. Villaturo look at old photo albums together. That’s when Mrs. V sees her dead husband and hints at a 1960s scandal down in Cajun country. Faster than you can say “crawdad,” Wendy digs into the scandal and into trouble.

She risks losing boyfriend David by befriending Mrs. V’s cute hearing-impaired grandson, alienates stepsister Alice by having a boyfriend in the first place, and upsets her friend Gayle without knowing why.  Will Wendy be able to prevent Mrs. V from being taken thousands of miles away? And will she lose all the friends she’s fought so hard to gain?

My favorite character in this story was Sam, Mrs. V’s hearing-impaired grandson. I learned to sign the alphabet as a girl. And I’ve always admired people who can communicate with sign language. Perhaps one day I will learn more. In any case, I enjoy meeting and reading about people with unique struggles, who rise above them and become beautiful and interesting people….like Sam!

Why did you decide to create a character who is deaf and how did you develop Sam? 

In elementary school, I met a deaf girl and was fascinated by her ability to speak even though she was deaf. If I recall, someone told me that she had learned to speak as a small child before she lost her hearing. As an adult, I worked at a newspaper with several deaf individuals, some who could speak and some who relied solely on American Sign Language (ASL). I began to teach myself ASL, and I continue to enjoy and appreciate it as a language and as an art. I think it’s beautiful. I’d noticed very few books for teens that had a deaf character, and I wanted to develop one. I thought it would be interesting for my main character, Wendy, to meet such a boy for the first time in her life and to find that they have a lot in common. So I created Sam.

~Cynthia T. Toney

My Review:

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status by Cynthia T. Toney is a sweet story of Wendy Robichaud, a freshman in high school. Wendy seems to have everything together. She knows exactly what she wants and all the steps it will take to get it. But she’s in for a few surprises that throw her off her game. When neighbor lady Mrs. V, who Wendy loves dearly as if she were her own grandmother, begins to show signs of trouble, everything changes. Wendy’s attention is divided several ways. She still wants to achieve girlfriend status, but now she wants to look after Mrs. V, and Mrs. V has just hinted there may be a scandalous mystery from the past. Additionally, her mother has just remarried and her best friend has become her sister, adding struggles she hadn’t foreseen into the mix.

I loved the humor, fun writing style, and character development in this story, just as I did in the first book in this series, 8 Notes to a Nobody. The characters do not fit neatly into any stereotypes, often seeming to surprise Wendy with their behavior. My favorite character was Sam, the deaf grandson of Mrs. V. Too often we jump to conclusions about people with special needs or challenges, but Wendy soon discovers this character faces his own fears, goals, challenges, and needs, just like any teen. I hope that Sam will be in the next book in this series!

While I particularly enjoyed watching the mystery of the scandal from the past unfold, I was able to relate to the challenges of fitting in and finding yourself in high school. I remember how starting a new school threw everything in my life out of whack, and I often felt like a fish out of water. This story shows the importance of deciding what type of person you want to be. Wendy and all the characters grow in this story of friendship and forgiveness, a story teen and preteens are sure to enjoy.

Visit Cynthia T. Toney:



Facebook Author Page:


Twitter:  @CynthiaTToney

Instagram:  @CynthiaTToney

Pinterest: Cynthia T. Toney, YA Author

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Have you stumbled upon a favorite book this summer? Tell me about it in the comments. Feel free to share a link.


2 thoughts on “Summer & Books: 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

    • It’s quite true there aren’t enough deaf characters in fiction (or characters with any type of disability). That’s partly why I included a deaf character, a blind character and a character with dyslexia in the I AM MARGARET series, and in my new YESTERDAY & TOMORROW series there’s a little boy with special needs. We need to include these characters so that’differently-abled’ people aren’t ‘invisible’.


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