Author: Judy Blume.
Genre: Fiction, teen, YA, physical disability.
Publication Date: 1973.
Summary: When Deenie sees the brace for the first time, she wants to scream and run. But the words won't come out, and anyway she has no other choice. And Deenie, beautiful Deenie, who everyone says should be a model, is stuck wearing a brace from her neck to her hips. For four years - or longer. She feels ugly and angry. But only she can figure out how to deal with it. And that's going to take courage and a change of perspective. Her mother wants to blame someone for ruining her plans for Deenie. Her friends want to be supportive but don't know how. And Buddy Brader - well, he's never heard of scoliosis.
My rating: 7/10
My review: This was a relatively enjoyable, very quick read. It's accessible but well-written, and, I think, a good combination of issues for the target audience. My favourite part about this book, however, is quite personal. I went to what turned out to be one of the last Junior High Schools, and there is a very specific, very difficult to identify feeling about a Junior High that is very distinct from an elementary or a high school. Blume gets it precisely - the very awkward age between adolescence and full-out teenagehood and the relationships between friends and family members of those going through that age, and it was the familiarity and the nostalgia of it (although those years were by far the least favourite part of my education), that appealed to me most throughout the book. I have a couple of criticisms. I don't enjoy when authors introduce arbitrary conflict that they then just as arbitrarily dismiss, and I felt like Deenie and her sister's relationship with their parents (their mother specifically) was one of those. Even though her mother plainly treats Deenie like an object, the only time this conflict is actually handled is when both the sisters kind of confront her about it, which quickly becomes a confrontation and resolution between the two of them, and doesn't actually resolve or address their mother's behaviour almost at all. And even though it's clear that Deenie and her sister hate it, and their father is aware of it and doesn't share it, the reader is left to presume things went on just as always afterward, which makes the conflict itself feel like a convenient plot device that leaves one disappointed on a personal level (especially since this conflict is reiterated all throughout the book, which sets up an expectation that it has to be eventually handled). As well, I would have preferred the book to spend a lot more time discussing Deenie actually dealing with the brace and having to wear it, which only happens in the second part of the book, and then it seems rushed. Too much time is spent setting up for the advertised subject matter of the book, which to my taste could have been handled in a chapter or two at most. As is, it creates the impression that Deenie adjusts to the brace and everything it implies with relative ease and quite quickly, which is not very easy to accept based on the way she is described.
♥ Daddy hugged me and said, "I'm proud of you, Deenie. You're stronger than your mother."
I wanted to tell him I'm not. I hate just looking at the brace, never mind the thought of wearing it. But I was glad he thought I was strong so I kept pretending I really was.
♥ Ma called from downstairs, "Lunch, Deenie..." and for some dumb reason that made me laugh because all of sudden I was hungry. No matter how bad things are people still get hungry. That's a fact.