Laura's Reviews > My Tiki Girl

My Tiki Girl by Jennifer McMahon
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's review
Sep 28, 08

bookshelves: ala-midwinter-arc08, ya, own
Read in February, 2008

The story is about Maggie, a girl who used to be popular until a car accident killed her mother and left her with a scarred and limping leg. Maggie can't face her old popular friends, so she becomes close to one of the outcasts, Dahlia, who loves Sylvia Plath, wants to form a band, and has a crazy family. As Maggie gets wrapped up in the elaborate fantasy life Dahlia's family creates, Maggie also loses herself to the power and fear that is first love...with Dahlia.

I feel like I've read a lot of YA books about being gay, and not many about being lesbian. It's really not the same. So firstly, even if this book sucked, it does fill a niche. But it didn't suck. Maggie is a real and likable character, but not perfect. I was yelling at her a lot. Dahlia is similar to Kori from Undone, and Alaska from Looking for Alaska, in that she's that "omg such a cool girl, marches to the beat of her own drummer, doesn't take shit from anyone" kind of person, but then McMahon draws the character even further, Dahlia's care for her mentally ill mother, her longing to be popular even as she distances herself, her anger at being poor.

The love angle of the book is very powerfully written as well. Maggie goes through all the hard points of tough love and possible rejection as well as wondering if she is a lesbian, and how would people react.

My last point to make is that the mother's death is handled well. The story comes out in small pieces, but still near the beginning, and isn't dwelt upon. Maggie feels like a murderer, and her relationship with her father is harmed because of the guilt, Maggie's relationship with her exbest friend is also changed from the guilt. But the accident is never exploited by the author, never goes into a pityfest for Maggie, never feels maudlin.

I really recommend this book to any of my friends who is reading this.
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