Daily Archives: January 25, 2008

Story of a Girl

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Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl is one that I’ve been meaning to read for some time, and my upcoming interview with Sara finally pushed it to the top of the pile. If, like me, you haven’t made it to this jewel, you’re in for something good. And then you’ll be all caught up when Sarah’s new YA novel, Sweethearts, comes out on February 1st.

16 is pretty young to have a past that you want to erase. Deanna Lambert knows what that’s like. When she was 13, her dad caught her in the backseat of a car with her brother’s 17 year old friend, and ever since, she’s been “that girl who slept with Tommy Webber.” So school is misery, and life at home isn’t much better as Deanna’s relationship with her father ground to a halt right there when he found her in the car three years before. Deanna wants to escape – not just from her school, and her home life, but from herself as others see her. This is why the book packs such an emotional punch, for what could be sadder than a young, thinking kid who feels worthless but doesn’t even really know herself yet. Sara Zarr pulls us inside Deanna’s head, and I was impressed by the truthfulness of the character’s voice and her insightful perspective. 

This would be a smashing read for a teen book club, or even better, for a parent/daughter book club. It hits many big themes: how families work and how they break down, forgiveness of self and others, the wisdom and generosity of some young people set against the judgment and cruelty of others. Hey, if that’s not the real world, then I don’t know what is. I saw Juno while I was reading this book, and the film made me think immediately of Sara’s book. In both stories, smart young people trapped in the consequences of one action, find their way through towards new possibilities. Story of a Girl doesn’t suggest that starting over is possible, but moving forward inch by inch can sometimes happen.

So tune in about a week from now for my interview with Sara. She seems pretty groovy. And I’m nearly through Sweethearts so I can safely say that its every bit as rich as Story of a Girl (and with a far more delicious cover!). On Monday, Sara will be over at Kate Messner’s Blog, launching her Sweethearts- related travels around the kidslitosphere.

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Poetry Friday – Frost

When you live in an old house, (100 years old, with windows that seem even older, if that’s possible), you know the cold means business when you open the curtains in the morning, and you can’t see out through the frost and you can feel the chill from a foot back. Even so, there’s something about a frost-covered window that makes me glad it’s winter, and sends me shuffling off downstairs to plan a cozy day indoors, safe (somewhat) from winter’s reach. And just about the only thing I might miss about our ancient windows is the golden, sharp, light slanting in through the frost on the bitterest mornings.

Here’s a poem by Valerie Bloom called Frost. It’s so short I can’t possibly just give you a teaser, so I’m throwing all copyright caution to the wind and offering the whole thing this week!

Frost

Overnight, a giant spilt icing sugar on the ground,
He spilt it in the hedgerows, and the trees without a sound,
He made a wedding-cake of the haystack in the field,
He dredged the countryside and the grass was all concealed,
He sprinkled sugar on the roofs, in patches not too neat,
And in the morning when we woke, the world around was sweet.

Pretty. You can hear Valerie Bloom reading it over at Children’s Poetry Archive.

(photo © Sarah Klockars-Clauser for openphoto.net CC:Attribution-ShareAlike)