This first novel combines pathos with insight as it describes adolescent girls being hospitalized for a variety of psychiatric disorders: ""The place is called a residential treatment facility. It is not called a loony bin,"" states Callie, the narrator, with characteristic grit. Callie does not speak aloud for most of the story, but directs her silent commentary chiefly to her therapist. Through this internalized dialogue, readers become aware of Callie's practice of cutting herself and, more gradually, how her cutting is a response to the dynamics of her damaged family. Similarly, the other girls' problemsDanorexia, overeating, substance abuseDcome to seem (both to themselves and to readers) like attempts to fight off parental or societal obliviousness to their needs: ""It's like we're invisible,"" says a girl during a climactic scene. While running the risk of simplifying the healing process, this novel, like Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, sympathetically and authentically renders the difficulties of giving voice to a very real sense of harm and powerlessness. Refusing to sensationalize her subject matter, McCormick steers past the confines of the problem-novel genre with her persuasive view of the teenage experience. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/2000 Release date: 01/01/2000 Genre: Children's
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