Gerber, Alyson. Braced.
March 28th 2017 by Scholastic Press
EARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Rachel is very concerned about starting middle school and getting a good position on the soccer team. She is struggling with that fact that her mother is pregnant and her friends are not always all that nice to her. When her doctor tells her that her scoliosis is getting worse and she will have to wear a back brace 23 hours a day, she is sure that this is a horrible, horrible thing. To complicate matters, the scoliosis is genetic, and her mother wore a brace but had to have surgery to fuse her spine. This makes her even more nervous for Rachel, and stricter about enforcing the hours that Rachel has to wear the brace. Rachel goes through the typical histrionics (stopping short of the completely hysterical exploits of Blume's 1974 Deenie) about her clothing,what people will think, and how the brace will affect her soccer playing, but generally comes to terms with the limitations of the brace and how she needs to work around them. She even develops a nice romantic relationship with the understanding Tate, who even drops his best friend when he is exceptionally unkind to her.
Strengths: This is DEFINITELY a topic on which we needed an updated book, and I appreciated how Rachel wasn't pleased with the brace but her parents were supportive and made her wear it. The difficulties were portrayed realistically, with a healthy does of tween friend and boyfriend drama to liven things up. The fact that the mother had also been treated for scoliosis added an interesting dynamic.
Weaknesses: I was Rachel's life wasn't quite so privileged, since this would have made the book more relatable. Not everyone can go to the mall to get all new clothes.
What I really think: This is a great novel, and one which every middle school library needs to investigate. Most of my objections were based on my own experiences.
There is only one picture taken of me during this time period where the brace is in evidence.
I remember feeling fortunate that I was able to wear the brace. My mother and aunts had bad backs, and I had no desire to be in pain in the future. Surgery wasn't discussed as an option-- I don't know if my curve was not bad enough to warrant it. It was somewhat difficult to bowl, the only sport that I did at the time, but I was never ashamed of the brace or felt a need to hide it from anyone. My friends were such that they wouldn't have cared if I had shaved my head and worn flannel sacks to school. Also, there were no boys even remotely interested in me. Looking back, I guess I was lucky.
Therefore, when I read books about girls who get all bent out of shape about medical intervention, it seems odd to me. That being said, I think there is a girl at my school who is supposed to be wearing a brace now and isn't. The drama is pitch perfect, but it just wasn't my experience.