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The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher
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Jun 28, 2012

bookshelves: to-read

Random House
May 2012
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Kirkus Reviews starred (March 1, 2012)
In a novel tailor-made for literature teachers, four unwilling high-school girls and their mothers join a summer book club with both comic and tragic results. In the summer before her junior year, Adrienne, recovering from a knee injury, falls under the influence of beautiful and irresponsible CeeCee, another reluctant member of the book club. Adrienne has always had a good relationship with her mother, but CeeCee flippantly bullies her into late-night excursions that do not end well and pesters Adrienne about her absent father. Reluctant to blame CeeCee for anything, Adrienne instead begins to worry that her single mother sees her as a "mistake." Meanwhile the two other girls, Jill and Wallis have problems of their own. Adrienne constantly re-injures her knee during CeeCee's midnight outings, the mothers begin quarreling with one another and circumstances deteriorate until the girls' final nighttime jaunt ends tragically. Schumacher weaves the narrative around common literary terms, such as setting, mood and conflict, which she illustrates in their respective chapters. Always a bookworm, Adrienne also ties her first-person narration into the five books the club reads, including The Left Hand of Darkness, Frankenstein and The Awakening. The characters, especially the four girls, sparkle, and even amid drama the narration remains lighthearted enough to appeal beyond bookish readers. Smart and insightful. (Realistic fiction. 12 & up)

School Library Journal (June 1, 2012)
Gr 8 Up-Presented as an AP English essay assignment, with each chapter heading containing a definition of a literary term, this novel feels like a take on Ann Brashares's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Delacorte, 2001). Fifteen-year-old Adrienne Haus is laid up with a fractured kneecap and torn ACL for the summer so her mother forces her to join a mother-daughter book club. Wealthy, rebellious CeeCee; Jill, an adopted Asian girl; and mysterious, secretive Wallis are the other unlikely teen members. Adrienne is a moody, self-conscious girl, and the complexity of the relationship with her unflappable mother is a pleasure to read, especially as she falls further and further under CeeCee's bad influence. Exceptionally strong characterization and attention to detail thoroughly place readers in a summer suburb in Delaware. Teens need not have read all the classics discussed throughout the book (e.g., The Yellow Wallpaper, Frankenstein, The Left Hand of Darkness, The House on Mango Street, and The Awakening), although some familiarity with them certainly enriches the story. Adrienne is a thoughtful reader, applying quotes from each of the books to real-life situations. However, like Catherine in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, she lets her imagination run away with her and incorrectly dreams up horrible scenarios that lead to a highly foreshadowed, yet suspenseful, tragic ending.-Madigan McGillicuddy, Gwinnett County Public Library, GA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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