Sunday, September 13, 2015

Burn Girl

Yes, I have a personal mission to eradicate sad books. There are SOOOOO many, and my students hardly ever ask for them. EXCEPT. And this is a big EXCEPT. There is always a small group of seventh grade girls, starting in February, that wants super sad books. They are very particular about the type of sadness. At the top of the list is drug abuse, followed by child abuse, followed by people dying of diseases. I don't know why this is, but my younger daughter was this type of reader. All the books about dealing with parents dying or people grieving don't do it.

Whitman has been doing such a fabulous job providing this kind of books. Something like Stronger Than You Know. Sad, but with hope and supportive adults once the child is removed from horrible situation. Loved Burn Girl, but it did have three uses of the f-word. While they were less gratuitous than most books, they still are not what I would prefer to support. May purchase and do a little editing with spit and a pencil eraser. Bowdlerizing. I know, I know.

25335399Mandy Mikulencak. Burn Girl 
September 1st 2015 by Albert Whitman and Company
E ARC from

Arlie and her meth-addicted mother are barely surviving in a run down motel when her mother dies of an enormous overdose. Arlie thinks about running, but soon realizes that she would rather have someone else be in charge for a while. She hasn't been to school, although she has been keeping up with some of the lessons due to best friend Mo. Once in the social service system, Arlie spends some time in foster care and then ends up with an uncle whom she has never met. He moves to Durango with his Airstream trailer for the two to live in while he builds a house. Arlie goes to school for the first time but is very self-conscious-- when she was young, she was horribly burned in a meth lab explosion and her face is scarred. She also can't smell or taste anything, even though there is no medical reason for this. At school, Brittany gives her a very hard time, but she meets Cody during choir practice. The brother of a bookstore owner who has always made Arlie feel comfortable, Cody is blind. He gets around well on his own, but Arlie feels that the only reason he will talk to her is that he can't see her. This isn't the case at all, and the two embark on a sweet romance. Mo continues to be helpful and supportive of her friend, and her uncle really steps up to make Arlie feel that she is cared for and has a home. When Arlie's former step father comes to town, Arlie is worried that he killed her mother, but relies upon her strong support network to keep her safe.
Strengths: This showed how significant Arlie's problems were, and flashed back to different episodes of her life while her mother was abusing drugs, but was such a hopeful book. Arlie tries very hard to accept her easier new life, but struggles with the fallout of the old. Her uncles motivation for helping rings true. Cody's blindness is treated very matter-of-factly, and the romance has realistic ups and downs. Very well written and insightful.
Weaknesses: The language. Sigh.
What I really think: Really, really liked this, and it would be very popular. Debating buying.

23369370Smith, Jennifer E. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between.
September 1st 2015 by Poppy

Aidan and Clare are leaving for college, on different coasts, in 12 hours. Aidan wants to stay together, Clare thinks they are destined to break up. They spend their last night before taking off to college hanging aroudn with friends and visiting all of the sites of their relationship (school, restaurants, etc.) and preparing to part.

Middle school and high school girls will love this, and aside from some poor choices at a party, fairly appropriate. Will purchase.

I love Smith's other books. Really. The problem I had with this was that I'm old. The end of relationships happens ALL THE TIME, and is supremely boring. Yeah, you could waste a LOT of emotion on it, but when you've had so many relationships end, you know there is no point. Romances beginning-- that's fun and exciting. Going off to college should not be clogged up with old romances that are doomed anyway. I'm boring myself even thinking about this book. Leave this one for the young who think that it is even necessary to try the long distance relationship thing. There's always some one else. Or there's not. Romance is pretty stupid anyway; move on.

Or hug your dog. They are more loyal, anyway.

1 comment:

  1. The "sad books" that I enjoyed reading were about people with illness or physical conditions. I remember reading a book about a girl with juvenile arthritis (and how it affected her athletic career--I think she was a runner), a girl whose uncle contracted AIDS (not sure how, but I don't think he was gay...was probably a blood tranfusion)....and Lurlene McDaniel's books were at the height of their popularity at that time. I actually learned a lot from those books! I don't remember the titles except for the McDaniel books, and they are probably long out of print and forgotten.