A fresh take on cutting and mental illness. I loved how Charlie's backstory unfolded, mostly revealing in little snippets of her thought in the midstA fresh take on cutting and mental illness. I loved how Charlie's backstory unfolded, mostly revealing in little snippets of her thought in the midst of panic attacks. I loved the believable relationships with their addictiveness and honor and disappointments. I loved how the book followed Charlie from an institute in Minnesota to Tulsa for what was supposed to be a fresh start, and back down a rabbit hole with her. I loved the uncompromisingly realistic portrayal of self-endangering behaviors and self-hating/blaming thoughts. The writing gets stronger and stronger throughout the book, and really hits its stride in the final third.
To anchor the drug use and other dark topics to something hopeful, Charlie is, of course, an artist. At first, I thought Charlie's charcoal sketching was a bit of a cliche, but I really liked the way she evolves by mulling over the work of professional artists she meets, how she struggles with her own artistic expression, eventually identifying a new medium better suited to telling her own story. That was a unique twist, I thought, and refreshing.
Some of the seedier backstory was a little brushed over for all the complexity it seemed to involve, but I think it worked. Bravo to Kathleen Glasgow for a new addition to young adult lit that takes on grittier subjects. I think this book will be cherished by recovered and recovering cutters, and by other fans of good y/a alike....more
In Garton Scanlon's first novel, for middle-graders, Ivy Green (no middle name, explain her parents, "to make room for God") is spending her 12th summIn Garton Scanlon's first novel, for middle-graders, Ivy Green (no middle name, explain her parents, "to make room for God") is spending her 12th summer in the (fictional) small town of Loomer, TX by babysitting the toddlers of an interesting Buddhist and part-time novelist, while longing for a dog and musing on the month-long disappearance of her mother. In grief about the destruction by wildfires of the church her evangelical father had preached in when she was a child, Ivy's mama has run off to the Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida with a preacher named Hallelujah Dave. Ivy's dad won't engage on the topic much, leaving Ivy filled with questions and a percolating frustration. Her babysitting activities link her up with science-minded Paul Dobbins, who is grieving the dissolution of the Space Shuttle program. Paul proves a steadfast, genial companion, and hatches a scheme for the two to run away themselves to find Ivy's mama. Thus begins a bus-riding adventure tinged with danger, fatigue, and plenty of beautifully composed internal and interpersonal debates about the oft-commensurate roles of religion and science in human nature.
The Great Good Summer is set firmly in place and time, and the southern dialogue and philosophical topics give it an appealingly nostalgic tone. Garton Scanlon was a poet-in-residence at the Michener Center for the Arts at UT Austin before turning her considerable talents to children's writing, and it shows. Not every writer of juvenile fiction has both the lyricism to appeal to literary adults and the sensitivity required to tackle spirituality as a main theme. Liz Garton Scanlon is the real deal. Already taking the picture book world by storm with such marvels as "All the World," with this new gem she has proven her mettle in writing for the early-reader set. Luckily for us, she is steadily publishing to critical acclaim, with no signs of slowing. We have much great good to look forward to from this thoughtful contemporary voice!...more
I look forward to finishing this when the library has a copy available. It reads very much like Blume's juvenile books, and is similarly set in the 19I look forward to finishing this when the library has a copy available. It reads very much like Blume's juvenile books, and is similarly set in the 1950s, but there is something very appealing about it....more