Dee, Barbara. Truth or Dare.
September 20th 2016 by Aladdin
E ARC from Netgalley
Lia is so uncomfortable with the idea of spending several weeks at camp with her more mature friends that she bails at the last minute and asks to spend the time at her Aunt Shelby's. Ever since the death of her mother in a car accident, her father has handed over many child rearing tasks to the aunt, who is a bit quirky. She decides that it's time for Lia to get a bra, and since this is part of her problem with her friends (who make a big deal about getting their periods), she reluctantly agrees. Once she gets back home, she has all manner of problems with her friends, who have started a Truth or Dare game over the summer that never ends well. Her friend Marley is disenchanted with the other girls as well, and is irritated that Lia is hanging out with them. Eventually, Lia comes to an understanding with her aunt, and comes clean with her friends.
Strengths: The girl drama is very valid, and I liked how the mother's death and the resultant moving on were portrayed. Shelby was a very nuanced character, and I loved her back story with Val and how that was resolved. Dee is a great writer, and has a knack for writing about the experience of middle grade girls. She does an especially good job at including relationships with various adults.
Weaknesses: I'm not entirely sure that girls are really that interested in bras and periods. Neither of my girls have any memory of trauma involved with bras, or any kind of competition with their friends about changes in levels of maturity. These are not topics that are covered often in middle grade literature, but I wonder if that's because while girls want and need the information about puberty, they don't necessarily want it to be included in fiction.
What I really think: While I think that girls would be fine with reading this, I don't know that it would be helpful for boys, because they might come away thinking that all girls care these matters more than they do. Since I encourage all of my students to read any of the books in our library, I am debating purchase. In reality, I think few boys would pick this up, so I may buy a copy.