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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book #24 of 2012: What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows

I just finished reading my 24th book of 2012: What Every Girl (except me) Knows by Nora Raleigh Baskin.  It was a very quick read and I finished it in one afternoon/evening.  I was feeling the need for something light and quick after reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Last year, I read Baskin's Anything But Typical for one of my librarian grad classes and really enjoyed it, so I thought I'd try another one by her.  I grabbed it off the library shelf a couple weeks ago on impulse, thinking that I might not even read it because it sounded so light and fluffy (but it was the only other book by Baskin at our library).

While What Every Girl (except me) Knows was a quick read, it was not all that light and definitely not fluffy.  It kind of reminded me of a Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret for this generation.  That book was cutting-edge in its time (funny to think of now) because it discussed real coming-of-age issues so frankly, something that had not been done up until that time.  What Every Girl Knows is similar in that it discusses real issues that young teens often don't know how to bring up in their real lives.

Gabby Weiss, age 12, is a girl without a mother.  Her mother died when she was 3, and Gabby has no memory of her at all.  For her entire life, though, Gabby has felt that she doesn't know how to be "girlish" or to interact with other girls, because she has had no female role model.  As she enters her teen years, she's unsure of how to act or who to turn to for advice.  This could just be a sweet coming-of-age story, where Gabby makes a true best friend, acquires a stepmother that she truly loves, and begins to communicate with her older brother.  But these events are overshadowed by sadder, more serious things: the best friend admitting that she knew when her mother had an affair, yet didn't tell her father; the potential stepmother leaving Gabby's father because she is afraid of the family's issues; and Gabby and her brother coming to terms with the previously unspoken fact that their mother committed suicide after their father walked out on them.

Mostly, this book just made me sad: sad for all the kids in the world that have such rough circumstances (such as a classmate who is revealed to be mentally unstable after being repeatedly locked in the closet by her mother as a punishment).  It made me want to cuddle my own kids close and protect them from the big, bad world.  In fact, I think I'm going to go do that right now.

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