Monday, August 15, 2011

Miles from Ordinary

Williams, Carol Lynch. Miles From Ordinary.

Lacey's mother has always hallucinated and had trouble dealing with life, but Lacey hopes that her own new job at the local library and her mother's job at the Winn-Dixie will help put everything back on track. Instead, it sends her mother off wandering. A cute boy Lacey has had her eye on helps her look for her mother, and during the course of the search we find out more about Lacey's life-- her grandfather's suicide, her Aunt Linda's decision to leave, and other family secrets that have contributed to or been caused by her mother's imbalance. Lacey must hold things together in order to help her mother, and in order to do this she must ask for help.

Strengths: A great problem novel about a girl coping with a dysfunctional and somewhat abusive family life. Every Februrary, my 7th grade girls want this kind of book. I handed it immediately to Picky Reader. Also popular by this author is The True Colors of Caitlyn Jackson.

Weaknesses: At first, I thought this was a book about sexual abuse because of the portrayal of the grandfather as stalking the daughter and granddaughter. It was a little confusing, but then, so was the mother's mind.

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Incredibly Alice.

From the publisher: "Maryland teenager Alice McKinley spends her last semester of high school performing in the school play, working on the student paper, worrying about being away from her boyfriend, who will be studying in Spain, and anticipating her future in college."

This is book 26 in the series, and there are two more to be published in 2012 and 2013. This one, as many of the recent books are, is more suited to high school students. I would have bought this one, even with the implausible scenario of one girl who gets pregnant on purpose so that her boyfriend's parents allow them to get married, if it hadn't been for the odd inclusion of a discussion about genital plastic surgery. I have long appreciated these books for their frank discussion of 8th grade health class issues handled in a very informative and not titillating way, but this book read more like one of my teen novels from the 1950s, where the young couple has to get married. I don't think that pregnant teens plan big weddings now. I will let students get this title from the public library.

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