Parents' Guide to

Harry Sue

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Offbeat, gritty story with heart. OK for older tweens.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
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The best fiction elevates the human condition into something transcendent, and this novel is a shining example. Harry Sue is mired in the muck of life: There's nothing cute or pretty or sentimental about her. She deliberately talks like the convict she wants to become and deals with problems no child should face with levelheaded, street-smart common sense, leavened with a broad streak of humor.

But author Sue Stauffacher, who has worked with incarcerated mothers, lifts this gritty story out of the mire with wit, style, and emotion. She's a conette who knows the backstory, and doesn't go for the obvious tears, instead treating terrible events with a light touch and then sucker-punching the reader in unexpected places. The complex tapestry she weaves includes a wealth of intriguing secondary characters. This is a highly original tour de force, one that lingers long in the memory, bears multiple readings, and provides grist for many discussions.

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