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STAINED book cover

Sarah, a teen with a port-wine stain and body image issues, is abducted, and must find a way to rescue herself.

“Powerful. I raced through it, wanting to know if Sarah would find a way to escape both her captor and her self-doubts. A real nail-biter!“
- April Henry, NY Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

SCARS book cover

Kendra must face her past and stop hurting herself--before it's too late.

Awards: #1 in the Top 10 ALA Quick Picks, ALA's Rainbow List, a Governor General Literary Award Finalist, Staff Pick for Teaching Tolerance.

Yes, it's my own arm on the cover of SCARS.

HUNTED book cover

Caitlyn, a telepath in a world where having any paranormal power at all can kill her, must decide between saving herself or saving the world.

Awards: A finalist for the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award.

PARALLEL VISIONS book cover

Kate sees visions of the future--but only when she has an asthma attack. When she "sees" her sister being beaten, and a schoolmate killing herself, Kate must trigger more attacks--but that could kill her.

Awards: 2013 Gold Winner, Wise Bear Digital Awards, YA Paranormal category.

STAINED book cover

Sarah, a teen with a port-wine stain and body image issues, is abducted, and must find a way to rescue herself.

“Powerful. I raced through it, wanting to know if Sarah would find a way to escape both her captor and her self-doubts. A real nail-biter!“
- April Henry, NY Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

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Teen Books That Have Something to Say


Letting Go of Bobby James, or How I Found Myself of Steam

Review

Letting Go of Bobby James, or How I Found Myself of Steam
by Valerie Hobbs
Farrar, Straus and Giroux,(2004)
ISBN-10: 0374343845
ISBN-13: 9780374343842

My rating:



Sixteen-year-old Jody Walker locks herself in a gas station bathroom after her new husband, Bobby, hits her. He abandons her there, miles away from her home, with just twenty dollars in her pocket and the clothes on her back. Her own mother continues to be beaten—and stay with—her father, so Jody knows she will get no help from her, but just advice to try to make it work. But Jody has more courage, and a tiny bit more self-worth than that. So she tries to make a new life for herself.

At first things seem dismal. It's hard to find a job, and when she finally finds one, it's just doing dishes. She has nowhere to live, and ends up sleeping in a cinema. But eventually she finds a place to live, and some friends, and even someone more lost than she is.

Jody's voice is unique and colorful, although at times does not seem consistent. Jody uses determination, courage, optimism, and resourcefulness to make a new and better life for herself. She also shares tidbits of her unique wisdom, and has good values. We want her to succeed, and we want to care. In many ways Jody is a likeable character, but it doesn't feel like we ever quite get inside her, or that we come to care deeply about her. And although she used great strength and courage to get herself away from Bobby, her abusive husband, she lets herself be used by Effaline, an unlikeable character, and this reduces Jody's strength.

Many of the characters do not seem to be fully realized, and although the story flows, it does not grip the reader. At many points it feels like the story is staying on the surface of things, not quite going deep enough, or coming alive enough. Yet there are moments of dramatic tension.

There are positive messages intertwined throughout the book, and lots of positive events and people that help balance out the pain of abuse, poverty, and worry. And there is a nice contrast between what Jody says, and what she does and how she is. (For instance, she puts herself down and thinks she's not strong, but we see how truly strong she is for getting herself safe and striving for a better life.)

This is not a gritty book, despite the subject matter. There is not a lot of focus on the past abuse, and Jody has enough survival instinct to keep herself off the streets. There is also a good mixture of humor that helps lighten the story. We see Jody grow into herself more, and in the end, stand up for herself. There are important messages in this book, about having self-esteem, not allowing abuse, standing up for one's self, being kind and compassionate, helping others and allowing oneself to be helped. The book is a good read.

-Added September 2004


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