Parents' Guide to

When She Was Good

By Ellen Dendy, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Teen survives abuse by mentally ill older sister.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+

Quite Good!

I read this book when I was 14 and I loved it! I wouldn't recommend it to anyone under 14!

This title has:

Too much sex

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (3 ):

Mazer sucks us into the story quickly and never lets us go until the very end. She employs first-person narrative to perfection by exposing Em's thoughts, which swing from memories of the past to her present situation and are occasionally shattered by the angry voice of a third party -- Em's dead sister Pamela. Flashbacks switch seamlessly to the present and back again as Em's life slowly unfolds, and each page seems to answer one question while forming a new one. We want and need to read on so we can find out what went on back then, and what's going on now.

This story is raw and only rarely sentimental -- just what we'd expect from a guarded teen who has battled tough odds her entire life. The softest aspect of the story is Em's heartbreaking fixation on mother figures -- from Oprah to perfect strangers, Em fervently tries to fill a void. Yet Mazer's bare prose doesn't inhibit her ability to paint a rich portrait of Em's character -- in the end, we feel as if we know her well enough to truly care about her and to root for her in her quest to reach a happier place.

Book Details

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