Spinelli, Jerry. The Warden's Daughter.
January 3rd 2017 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by the publisher
Cammie lives in an apartment in a prison in 1959 because her father is the warden there. Her mother died in a car accident when Cammie was a baby-- her mother's last act was pushing the stroller Cammie was in away from the car that hit her. A series of "hands" have helped raise Cammie, and the latest, Eloda, is someone to whom she has warmed. Approaching her teen years, Cammie longs for a mother figure in her life, since she sees her father as distant and marginally involved. There are other things going on-- during the summer break, Cammie has a group of friends who want to come to her home because it is located at the prison, and her friend Reggie gets to dance on American Bandstand. There are friendships with the inmates, especially the bubbly BooBoo, who regales Cammie with her life before she became imprisoned. When BooBoo hangs herself in the shower, all of Cammie's emotions come to the front, and she has a break down through which Eloda helps her. When school starts, however, she is on her own to navigate the treacherous waters of adolescence, since Eloda has served her time.
Strengths: This was much better than Hokey Pokey, and had a lot of good period details. Readers who liked Connor's All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook might find this an interesting book to read to compare and contrast with that title. There is definitely a need for more books set during this time period. My favorite part was the American Bandstand appearance, as well as the descriptions of Reggie's outfits.
Weaknesses: This was very slow and rather sad. The device of telling it from Cammie's perspective when she was older took away some of the immediacy. I was all set to buy this even though it would probably circulate slowly, but the suicide of BooBoo made this too sad.
What I really think: Not a bad historical novel, but I agree with the School Library Journal review that it will appeal more to adults than children. Purchase if there is a large Spinelli fan base or a need for novels set during this time period.