The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely Lost It
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know there is domestic violence and teen drug use in this book. Teen characters struggle with family, interpersonal, and class issues. Overall the book has a light touch about these topics, as reflected in the title.
What's the story?
Gemma Stone has a lot going on. Her sister is getting married and the groom's family is a bunch of loons. She normally throws up when she has to speak in public, but this year she's decided to go out for the school play -- it doesn't hurt that her crush is in the play too. She also has to worry about Raven De Head, a bad boy from a bad family who's insistent on being friends with her.
Is it any good?
Lisa Shanahan has a large following in Australia as an author of children's books, and this first foray into young adult literature is a great success. The main character, Gemma Stone, is having a defining year in which she finds herself outside of her safety zone, giving up old ways of thinking, and growing up a lot.
The book is touching and laugh-out-loud funny. Shanahan finds a way to mix a ridiculous wedding, a class war/food fight among students, a Shakespearean play, and profiles of three very different families into a believable vehicle in which Gemma is being taken for a ride. As the story is set in Australia, there's some slang or colloquialisms that may be foreign to many readers, but overall the book is universal in its themes.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about domestic violence and class issues in their school. Why did Gemma feel like she would be betraying Raven if she told what she had witnessed at Raven's home? How would you react? Is there a trusted adult that you could talk to? Why were the De Head children treated differently? Why did Gemma feel guilty for disliking Raven? Would you have been embarrassed to call him a friend?