June 14, 2006

Angry, angry girls

Gennifer Choldenko is a genius. Her novel, Notes from a Liar and her Dog is spot on about certain parts of growing up -- the angry bits. Just about every little girl goes through a period where her mother is her worst adversary. Antonia MacPherson is so unhappy with her mother, her father, her sisters and her life that she tells her favorite teacher, Just Carol, that she's adopted. None of those crazy people are her real family.

Ant is hurting, and Choldenko doesn't pull punches about some of the reasons why. Without her saying so, the reader knows that Ant MacPherson's mom wishes:
*that Ant would go by her given name, 'Antonia.' ("Ants spoil picnics," her father once tells her unkindly)
* that Ant would be more girly - and give up her best friend, Harrison, and her smelly dog Pistachio
* that Ant was "easy" like her two sisters, both of whom were named after queens.
* that Ant was beautiful

There are some really angry emotions rolling around in this book, and there's hurt shoved down deep. There are some really inventive lies told, too, but Ant realizes she can't keep on going like this. For one thing, Just Carol doesn't tell lies. And more than ever, Ant realizes she needs somebody on her side.

A really great, empowering book for middle graders and older graders too.

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