This Journal Belongs to Ratchet

Nancy Cavanaugh, Author
Nancy J. Cavanaugh. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $12.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4022-8106-8
Reviewed on: 03/11/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Eleven-year-old Ratchet records her observations, complaints (“Everything in my life is old and recycled”), worries, and goals (“To be a girl who fits in—hopefully one with a friend”) in a series of writing exercises for her language arts “class” (she’s homeschooled by her single father) in Cavanaugh’s debut novel. But fitting in is difficult for a girl nicknamed after a mechanic’s tool, who doesn’t have a mother, doesn’t attend a “real” school, and spends her days helping her “crazy environmentalist” father fix cars. Worse, her father’s outspoken political views have won him the wrong kind of publicity around town, and his battle to save Moss Tree Park from becoming a strip mall looks like a lost cause. Cavanaugh uses bold, often humorous first-person narration to capture the essence of an unconventional heroine struggling to figure out who she is supposed to be. Ratchet’s journal—written on lined paper and filled with a medley of lists, poems, stories, essays, and doodles—offers an enticing blend of strong social views, family secrets, and deeply felt emotions. Ages 9–up. Agent: Holly Root, Waxman Leavell Literary Agency. (Apr.)
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