Nadine is sick of hiding in the library and uses AA’s 12 step plan to make a plan of her own to take back her high school life. With the help of the school’s librarian and the other girl hiding in the library, Anne, she is able to fulfill her plan each step at a time. Through her new experiences Nadine realizes there is a problem at home that has to be dealt with before she can leave behind her past as a door mat… Rachel, her volatile older sister who is struggling due to the unreliable men in her life.
This is a sleeper book which at first glance may seem like another high school loser-makeover story. And in a way that is exactly what the story is about while being executed in a way that makes the story really strong.
Without her dad and hockey Nadine has lost sight of who she is, afraid, without her dad there, she hides in the library unable to approach anyone in school. After glimpsing another girl hiding in a study cubicle in the library who is even shyer than herself helped Nadine to take the first step. What a totally believable way for Nadine to step up!! This is the kind of smart choices that the author made in building the story in this book.
Nadine as well as the other secondary characters had such developed personalities that read very well. Nadine is a bit of a sarcastic, tongue in cheek girl that has suppressed herself and we see that from page one in her thoughts about Felix and in her dialogue with her crush Cameron. Anne is the resident Mouse character who lights up on the field. She really was a soft personality that over the course of the story showed her inner strength which translated to a good friend for Nadine. Mei is one of those friends you enjoy hanging out with as long as you get along and don’t get her back up about something. We see from how she spoke about the Sasquatch situation what kind of person she is before that situation gets even worse. Rachel, Matt and Cameron were a little less developed but they were a year older than Nadine and I felt like how they were written is how much Nadine would be able to know about them. As I read this story I felt like these were real people dealing with a real life situation.
A small highlight on Mr. Khan the librarian/teacher on lunch duty. What a great teacher to accept the girls in the library until they could manage going back out to the cafeteria! Ever school needs a safe haven for kids struggling to deal with life!
The plot was strong. I liked how field hockey played such an integral part in Nadine learning to stand up for herself. How her friends and their troubles affected her choices. I enjoyed Cameron and Nadine trying to maneuver through that mine field waiting to happen. Also the extreme things her sister would do added a really good tension through the book as you, like Nadine, didn’t know when that girl would go half cocked. The book is not more than it is but what it is was very well developed and executed. Surprising things happen that really add to the flow of the story and Nadine’s revival.
At the core of this book is a story about bullies. The main bully of this book happens to be the MC’s sister but she’s still a bully. I liked how Nadine’s experiences with her new friends helped her gain a better perspective on her sister. In the hands of a more experienced author we would have also explored mental health, which reading the blurb and then the book I felt very strongly came into play with many of the events. Someone who swings to such extremes is not natural (I have personal experience with this). As the one having to deal with these mood swings I thought it a fine idea for Nadine to have researched her sisters actions on the internet some. There are chat groups where she could have sought advice. This would have added another layer to the story. It’s not a bad book without it but mental health issues are a hot topic for teens who want more diversity.
Two things annoyed me about Nadine. Her name did not seem to suit her and I kept forgetting it. Minor I know but annoying nevertheless. And her guilt about Mei. When your friends choose to do something after you give them advice, you don’t become an owner of their actions. They still own their own choices. What happened to Mei was Mei’s choice, not Nadine and how arrogant of her to take the credit! I wish someone (like an adult!) would have pointed this out to her. A little more Cameron time and he would have been a great one to do this, especially having a brother where guilt would and could come into play.
I would have also liked to see her mother step up after such a debacle. No more just staying silent after Nadine sees that her mother is turning over a new leaf with her haircut. Parents should be given a chance to redeem themselves after failing their child once.
BOTTOM LINE: Shocking, real and relatable for teens maneuvering through high school.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
“NetGalley delivers digital galleys, often called advance reading copies, or ARCs, to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles. Professional readers–reviewers, media, journalists, bloggers, librarians, booksellers and educators–can join and use NetGalley at no cost.” Netgalley is a special section of my book discussions where I post reviews of the digital books I read through this service. It’s quite amazing the gems you can find. I’ve yet to regret reading a book, even if I don’t like it…