Kelly L. Bingham, Author . Candlewick $16.99 (276p) ISBN 978-0
Written in a series of poems, letters and journal entries, Bingham's debut novel strikes a delicate balance between shock story and emotive rant, and delivers a provocative portrait of one girl's journey following a near-fatal accident. Before the attack, 15-year-old Jane's life was filled with the trappings of any normal teenage girl: trips to the mall with her girlfriends, art projects, crushes on boys at school. But when she loses her arm to a shark over the summer, Jane's life (and perspective) changes forever. She can't draw like she used to, open cans or crack eggs for dinner, or button her own pants. Everyone at school whispers about her (the pity stare is debilitating), and she has reached the breaking point when it comes to condolence letters from strangers and interview requests from reporters. Jane must find a way to move beyond her wounds—both physical and psychological. Powerful without being maudlin or preachy, the book explores hurdles that are bound to follow a physical disfigurement, and readers will come to empathize with and respect Jane for her strength and brutal honesty. They'll also appreciate the slight (but realistic) lift at the story's conclusion. Ages 12-up.
Reviewed on: 04/16/2007