In this companion novel, Howe explores the interior life of the most outspoken member of the "Gang of Five" fromÂ The MisfitsÂ andÂ Totally JoeÂ (2001, 2005).
Told entirely in verse, the story follows 13-year-old Addie's struggles to define herself according to her own terms. Through her poems, Addie reflects on her life and life in general: her first boyfriend, what it means to be accepted and her endeavors to promote equality. Addie is at her most fragile when she examines her relationship with her boyfriend and the cruel behavior of her former best friend. Her forthright observations address serious topics with a maturity beyond her age. She contemplates the tragedy of teen suicide in "What If" and decries the practice of forced marriages in "What We Don't Know," stating "...And their mothers / have no power to change how it goes. They too / have been beaten and raped, sold and traded like / disposable goods, owned by men, while the only thing / they own is their misery..." Addie's voice gains confidence when she takes on the role of an advocate, as when she reveals her reasons for forming the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) at school in "No One is Free When Others Are Oppressed (A Button on My Backpack)." Bolstered by the sage advice of her grandmother, Addie charts a steady course through her turbulent seventh-grade year.
Readers will agree when, in the triumphant finalÂ poem, an assured Addie proclaims: "I am a girl who knows enough / to know this life is mine." (author's note)Â (Verse novel. 11-14)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Written in narrative verse that has the rhythm and punch of spoken-word poetry, this companion to The Misfits and Totally Joe intimately conveys the internal conflicts of seventh-grader Addie, whose outspokenness makes her a target for ridicule at school. As bold and confident as she may appear, Addie is filled with worries both external ("I worry how in the world/ the world will ever be okay. Then/ I turn off my alarm/ and get on with the day") and internal, particularly regarding her relationships with her boyfriend, DuShawn, and her catty former friend, Becca. Addie's attempts to organize a Day of Silence don't go as planned, but she gains support in unexpected places and, as someone seldom at a loss for words, she finds her self-imposed quiet revelatory. Howe's artfully crafted lines show Addie's intelligence and wit, and his imagery evokes the aura of sadness surrounding "this purgatory of/ the middle school years/ when so many things/ that never mattered before/ and will never matter again/ matter." Readers will empathize with Addie's anguish and admire her courage to keep fighting. Ages 10-14. (July)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 6-8--This companion to The Misfits (2001) and Totally Joe (2005, both S & S) focuses on Addie Carle, an outspoken, intelligent girl who is worried about injustice and "how in the world, the world will ever be okay." She always speaks her mind, which doesn't endear her to her fellow classmates and leads to gossip and ridicule. She is an earnest protagonist who doesn't see any other way to be. But seventh grade is becoming a turning point in her life. Her first boyfriend likes her for who she is but is eventually overwhelmed by her; a childhood friend returns and is now part of the popular group; she realizes that adults also have inner lives and emotions; and she loses a beloved pet. She wonders if she should pay more attention to what she wears or says, but questions whether wearing the "in" shoes would really change anything. Then when Addie participates in the National Day of Silence in support of GLBT teens, she begins to notice the students who are always silent ("while I talk and talk and the loud ones shout and shove") and is surprised when she discovers that she can be quiet for a change. And she finds support from a surprising source. Howe completely captures what it is like to be a 13-year-old girl--the ups and downs, the emotional tightrope, the push/pull between childhood and growing up, and the power of gossip and school cliques. Addie negotiates the corridors of middle school with thoughtful determination; she's a young woman with a lot to say. Add this fine novel to the growing list of novels in verse.--Terrie Dorio, Santa Monica Public Library, CA[Page 107]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.