Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Girl Unmoored - Jennifer Gooch Hummer

Summary:  Apron Bramhall has come unmoored.  It's 1985 and her mom has passed away, her evil stepmother is pregnant, and her best friend has traded her for a newer model.  Fortunately, she's about to be saved by Jesus.  Not that Jesus--the actor who plays him in "Jesus Christ, Superstar."  Apron is desperate to avoid the look-alike Mike (no one should look that much like Jesus unless they can perform a miracle or two), but suddenly he's everywhere.  Until one day, she's stuck in church with him--of all places.  And then something happens; Apron's broken teenage heart blinks on for the first time since she's been adrift.

Mike and his grumpy boyfriend, Chad, offer her a summer job in their flower shop, and Apron's world seems to calm.  But when she uncovers Chad's secret, coming of age becomes almost too much to bear.  She's forced to see things the adults around her fail to--like what love really means and who is paying too much for it.  (Summary from back of the book, image from, book sent free for review.)

My Review:  It took me a bit to get into this book, but after 50, the pages started flying.  The writing can be a bit choppy at times, and there are places that as an adult reader I still had to go back and re-read to make sure I understood the sentence.  Some of these re-readings are because Hummer used a clever way of describing something.  Other times it was because the sentence was worded a bit rough.

Apron is about as awkward as her name.  She's extremely klutzy and socially oblivious, but she's spot on for a 7th grade girl, especially one who has just lost her mother.  Her life is in complete upheaval, and just when she needs her the most, she loses her best friend due to unpopularity.  Life is cruel and Apron's is living proof.  By twist of fate, she comes in contact with Mike, her very own life-ring to the world.  Mike is suffering just as Apron is, but it takes time before Apron realizes this.  Through the experience of watching real prejudice and violence against gays and watching Mike's boyfriend, Chad, suffer through AIDS, Apron is able to see outside herself.  She learns that she is not alone and that although life is hard, we all carry on.  She learns that she has purpose and that through love and compassion she can make a difference in the world.

There are some interesting father-daughter dynamics throughout the story as her father finds himself in a difficult place: married to a younger woman, pregnant with his second child, and still grieving his beloved wife.  His depiction shows just how sticky and tricky life can be.  I wish the communication between father and daughter were stronger, but it reality, I'm sure this is fairly true to form.  In fact, I can only imagine it being worse.

The themes and messages are beautiful.  The growth and trials are real and raw.  Apron is a girl grown up too fast through the cruelty that life can offer.  What comes out clear is how through these experiences Apron is molded into a beautiful, compassionate, loving person.  She learns our experiences are not without lessons. 

For the sensitive reader:  A handful of swear words thrown in real life difficult experiences.  A portrayal of a gay couple and their struggle as one is dying from AIDS.  For many conservative parents, this may be a controversial read.  I recommend reading it first before handing it to your child if you have any reservations of someone teaching your child about gay or lesbian lifestyle.

Rating: 4 Stars

Sum it up:  A book on love, loss, paradox, prejudice, and same-sex issues from the perspective of a teenage girl.

1 comment:

vvb32 reads said...

Glad to hear you liked this one. I have it on my reading pile for next month.


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