Girl Unmoored

Jennifer Gooch Hummer. Fiction Studio (NBN, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (330p) ISBN 978-1-936558-30-8
Middle school is purgatory for Apron Bramhall. Her mother is dead. Her best friend Rennie has fallen under the spell of the local Queen Bee. Margie (aka "M"), the Brazilian nurse who cared for her late parent, has literally moved in on her depressed Latin professor father, all the while trying to dispose of Apron's beloved pet guinea pig. It's a classic case of things can't get worse, but they do quickly in this fast-paced bildungsroman set in 1980s coastal Maine. When Dad announces his plans to marry the devious M—a prospect that excites no one—the 7th-grader has to grow up quickly. But the ruckus she inadvertently causes at their hastily arranged church wedding propels her literally headlong into the lives of Mike and Chad, a gay couple who run a local flower shop and are coming to terms with their own struggles. The bittersweet story of their friendship and the young adolescent's gradual understanding and acceptance of their doomed relationship is infused with love and punctuated with wry good humor. The rapid fire dialogue helps along an ambitious first novel that's best suited to young adults. Less successfully, Hummer tries to evoke coastal Maine, but the local attitudes on display here say more about the era, and less about the place—references to lobsters and a sprinkling of eccentrics aside. Apron may be adrift, but Hummer's debut is on track. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/20/2012
Release date: 03/01/2012
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