This book makes a great case for the importance of guided reading, as well as getting the age group right on the audience. While Sara Louise is thirteen, the themes are not really appropriate or understandable for younger kids. I was given this book as a gift (I forget at what age- maybe 11?) and hated it when I read it because I couldn't understand it. Reading it for the second time in an adolescent literature class, I loved it. The discussion and classroom questions helped focus my thoughts and discover some great symbolism and understandings of the book. However, most of the teachers in the class didn't end up really liking this one, so it may not be appropriate for a wide variety of audiences. The themes of sibling rivalry and making a way for oneself are things that most can identify with, but are rarely as potent as the feelings of the main characters in the book. It also contains some interesting things bits on religion, which might limit the potential reading groups, but would be really great to talk about with the right group of people.
I think that the more times I read this book the more I love it. However, I also still firmly believe that it's a book written by a woman that speaks to women, rather than the girls that often read it. It is really beautifully written and the perspectives so heart-wrenchingly real. The more I recognize Sara Louise's unreliability as a narrator, the more I can understand and like her despite her faults as a person.