cover image The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary

The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary

NoNieqa Ramos. Carolrhoda Lab, $17.99 (344p) ISBN 978-1-5124-3976-2

Fifteen-year-old Macy Cashmere is emotionally disturbed, at least according to her school, teachers, and family. But her life is heartbreakingly difficult—her father is in prison, her brother was taken away by Child Protective Services, and her mother is involving herself with a string of abusive men who make occasional passes at Macy. She has just two friends: honor student Alma, who hopes that school will save her, and George, who wears a helmet due to an injury sustained after the brutal murder of his sister. Macy’s story is told as a series of vignettes, each framed by a word in Macy’s “dictionary” (“Answer. Noun. Example: ‘Ahnsuh me, bitch!’ ”) with a tenuous narrative thread. Debut author Ramos shows Macy navigating the difficulties of school and home while plagued by deaths, threats to her safety, and a constant, nagging hunger. Ramos makes effective use of vernacular to channel Macy’s anger, anguish, and sharp-edged perspective in a disturbing but empathetic portrait of life as a child in poverty. Ages 14–up. Agent: Emily Keyes, Fuse Literary. (Feb.)