A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a boook about a girl with divorced parents -- and a complicated family -- who wants them to get back together again. Annabel doesn't behave perfectly -- she is image obsessed and even runs away with her stepsister. But she is a realistic character who does grow into someone able to accept her new reality. There's a lot of label dropping, but this could be a good choice for tweens having to adjust to new family situations.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Annabel's family is complicated (and diagrammed on the original cover of the book). When she travels from New York to visit her father and his new family in Australia, she has one thought in mind -- to convince him to come back. She sees her new stepsiblings and stepmother as the ones who stole her father from her so, despite their initial friendliness, she is determined to be cool to them. But, of course, this doesn't go as planned. Her father is happy with his new family in a way that he never was before, and she finds herself liking her stepsister, Lucy. But more difficulties are on the way -- while she was gone, her mother got remarried to the father of a boy in her class.
Is it any good?
Author Rachel Cohn does some things well; her dialogue is natural and real, and she understands teens and their feelings. Because of this Annabel never seems like a brat, even though some of her behavior is bratty. Especially well-done is the parental reaction to the girls running away. In addition to having a police officer show them pictures of what can happen to runaways, they are given serious punishments that very much fit the crime and yet are not unduly harsh or unkind. There is a too-pat ending, but middle school girls will still feel connected with Annabel and appreciate her new perspective on family.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about books about divorce. Can you think of other books or movies that deal with this topic? What do these stories have in common? Are they helpful?
Also, what did you think of the label dropping in this book? Do these details just show that Annabel's image obsessed -- or do you think this book promotes materialsm?
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