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Gem & Dixie

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  2,126 ratings  ·  389 reviews
Gem has never known what it is to have security. She’s never known an adult she can truly rely on. But the one constant in her life has been Dixie. Gem grew up taking care of her sister when no one else could: not their mother, whose issues make it hard for her to keep food on the table, and definitely not their father, whose intermittent presence is the only thing worse t ...more
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Balzer + Bray
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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,126 ratings  ·  389 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Two sisters -
Gem 17....Dixie 14
The sisters didn't have a charming - faithful mother -or a strong benevolent father.
Adria is a mother who self medicates.
Russell, their father - into other women- had been gone for years - but then comes back. Russell brought back with him a backpack filled with cash.
With unrelenting poor living conditions--Gem 'especially' felt the burdens being the older sister from so much neglect and abandonment. She also remembers more... and is most suspicious of her fath
♛ may
full review posted

If I had judged this book based on the first few chapters, I would have instantly gave it 5 stars. Legit one of the greatest, most realistic contemporaries beginning I’ve read. and then I reached the halfway mark and it all went downhill but shhhh, im trying not to think about that

- The first half of this book was absolutely incredible to me. Not only the amazingly realistic portrayal of neglect but also the characters were real as hell
- Take this quote for ins
Oct 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, 2016, 3, starred-2017
I just can't decide if I liked this novel or not. There were parts in it that made my heart ache for Gem and her feelings of abandonment and neglect. Zarr had painted a family with a very specific, tragic dysfunction, and it affected me greatly to witness it. But then, there were long parts of the story that felt flat and underwritten and rambling, when Gem sounded not 17 but 10. Do all Zarr's books have this too-simple language? I've read them all, but I can't remember being bothered by this si ...more
Neil (or bleed)
Not her best work, for me, having read all of her novels but it was good all the same.

Gem & Dixie has the same emotional tone with Sara Zarr's other novels.

Which I like.

Which always gets me.

No wonder I consider her one of my favourite authors.

Gem & Dixie is about the complex relationship between two sisters from a broken home. It is about Gem, in particular, as she steps up for her family amidst her jealousy for Dixie, her personal problems and her issues with her parents. It shouldn't be li
Lala BooksandLala
I've read a lot of books with this narrative, and it didn't really do anything new or outstanding for me. The characters felt real and were well developed, it had some solid quotes, good messages, but it fell apart a little by the end and overall there was nothing overly impressive or memorable about this.

This book comes out in April- an early copy was provided by the publisher.
Sarah Elizabeth
(I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“Everything that happened. It was only because we wanted our parents to be better, to know how to take care of us.”

This was a contemporary story about two sisters, and their less-than-perfect home life.

Gem was an okay character, and I felt quite sorry for her when she was hungry and had no food to eat and no money to buy food with. I did find her plans a little lacking at times though, and it se
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
Fine but forgettable tbh.
May 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every new book by Sara Zarr I think, It's not possible, but this one was EVEN BETTER than the last one! So guess what? GEM & DIXIE was even better than the last one!

How does she keep doing it? Is it . . . a secret voodoo ritual? Do I even want to know? Nah. I will approve any black magic that continues to bring me books like these.

Also, every time she has tackled a topic that could be too sad, or too embarrassing, or simply too raw to make the book enjoyable. Like abuse, teen pregnancy, abducti
Apr 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, tlb, ya
This was alright...I think I was just hoping for a more gritty tale. From the premise, I thought the story had a lot of potential but was severely underwhelmed after finishing. I've never read any of Zarr's previous works but the prose is just so simple, it feels completely wrong for the "hard-hitting" story trying to take place here. For a book under 300 pages it took me longer than usual to complete; to be honest, I was annoyed at some points where "showing not telling" became blatant & lost i ...more
Roshni Ajmal
Aug 20, 2016 marked it as gimme-already
i am sure about the waterfall this book is going to cause my eyes.
Zemira (Kylo Ren fangirl) Warner
What a depressing book. I made the wrong choice to read this bright and early. There were moments when I wanted to stop reading and never think of this book ever again mostly because of the way Gem and Dixie were living. If you don't like to read about poverty and neglectful parents don't bother with G&D but if you love Sara Zarr's work, just like I do, then you know what to do. ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
WHHHAAAT???!!!?! A sad book with a bittersweet ending that doesn't involve a love interest??!!?! Someone healing and moving on in life without having to have a relationship?!!?!
My single, damaged ass is HERE FOR THIS.
I really like Sara Zarr's style. I haven't read all her books, but I like that she moves around to different topics in her books, and she captures emotional strain soooo well. I felt all the heartbreak and hopelessness of Gem's situation, especially in her last discussion with the high school therapist (oh my gosh, the tears!). Tragic, but also beautiful and poignant. ...more
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
This story hurt my heart. I felt so much for Gem. I wanted to give her a hug, I wanted to sit and talk to her, I wanted to do so much for her. This hit me in the feels. Damn you for making me feel, Sara.

Full review can be found here:

Holy crow my heart hurt with this story. I knew it was about sisters but this felt deeper and more powerful than just that.

Short recap: Gem and her sister, Dixie, have not had an easy life. Their father left when they were you
Quick review for a quick read. Another emotional and engaging read from Sara Zarr. "Gem and Dixie" is a story of sisters as well as knowing when to let go and grow. I enjoyed the journey, though the story had more compelling points in certain turns than others. It got a little muddled in the middle trying to march itself towards the ending, but still pulled at my heartstrings for showcasing the relationship between the characters.

Gem is four years older than Dixie and has been tasked as the resp
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
3.5 stars-Gem and Dixie is an excellent realistic contemporary fiction tale of two sisters who grow up in poverty in Seattle area. The characters are well-drawn and the narrator likable, but flawed. Gem and Dixie True are raised by neglectful using parents, and then later by just their mother. The reason I gave this book 3.5 vs. 4 stars was the plausibility factor of the sudden influx of money- I just found it incredibly difficult to believe, especially in a story as beautifully real in terms of ...more
Kelly Hager
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For as long as Gem can remember, she's been taking care of her little sister, Dixie. Their dad is mostly out of the picture; their mom works a lot and has drug and alcohol problems. When Gem gets a chance to escape, she has to decide if she'll be able to tale Dixie with her (or if Dixie would even want to go).

I loved this book. It's a hard read (no, Gem's life isn't AWFUL but she still has responsibilities teenagers shouldn't have and it's also pretty horrible that people act like her life is f
This was an okay read. The sisters didn't seem like they were a good fit. I'm different from my sister but never this awkward. I wasn't exactly happy with the decision that Gem made at the end but I've never been in that situation so who am I to judge. The good thing about this book was that it wasn't very long. ...more
I would actually give this 3.5/5 stars.

I can't really say that I enjoyed this book. It's pretty sad and heavy and while it ends well, I didn't really feel good while reading it. However, I thought the ending was very realistic and I think this book is really important.

This book deals with something that isn't often covered in YA books: class issues and poverty. I feel like this book needs to be read because it makes those problems really clear and I think it's a topic that people need to read ab
Kelly Gunderman
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss, arc
Check out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!

Gem & Dixie is a wonderful book about the power of sisterhood and what it means to take care of those who are closest to you, even if that isn't always the easiest thing in the world.

Gem has been taking care of Dixie for as long as she can remember - her parents have never been there for them, and in fact, they split up years ago, leaving their mother to care for them, although she doesn't do a very good job of
I thought Zarr did an excellent job showing a family in crisis and the ways that sisters can experience the same household in such dramatically different ways. Some excellent exploration of lower class life.

But what happened at the end confused me a lot. The pacing is off, the voice changes, and the depth and nuance in the first 3/4 of the book completely fell apart.
Dec 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Gem has never found herself able to rely on anyone. The adults in her life have been in and out, leaving her to be the adult and take care of her sister. Her sister, Dixie, is the true constant in her life. When their father comes back and tries to get into their lives, Gem finds herself out with Dixie all alone. Things soon get complicated when Gem realizes what must be done.

This is a story about one sisters love for another and how strong that bond can be. Gem has had to be the mother. She fi

So this is a tale of a whole family that's fucked in the head. Like literally everyone in this family had issues. I thought this book was okay. But it was just that. Okay.

I'm honestly kind if disappointed in this story. I thought a lot more would happen than all the stuff that actually happened. I mean the girls took the money, and then they left. And they hung around for a couple days. It was rather anticlimactic. I also disliked how the ending was. tied up in a happy little bow at the en
Alex Black
Mar 31, 2020 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this because I really do quite like Sara Zarr, but it wasn't the book for me. I feel weird reviewing it even because the main reason was just that I didn't like the story. The characters were well crafted, the setting incredible, Zarr's writing style great as always, but it literally just came down to the story.

The teenage main character finds a bag of money and takes it with her sister, then they proceed to have a variety of adventures. (It's done in a much more realistic way t
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
3.5 stars

Gem takes care of younger sister Dixie, as she has all their lives. Gem is more responsible than both their parents combined, their dad gone and their mom barely remembers to stay sober or buy groceries. When their dad returns with a backpack of money the girls take off, but for Gem to be truly free, she may have to leave Dixie behind.

GEM AND DIXIE made me feel sad and hopeful and everything in between. Gem is a complex, easily rootable character, carrying more than her fair sha
Tee loves Kyle Jacobson
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gem & Dixie is a great story about two sisters who live with their unstable mother. One day they had both parents then the next minute the father walks out on them never to look back. So the sisters stay close as Gem takes care of her younger sister Dixie. But make no mistake Dixie is young but she is smart as a whip and does things that her older sister does not like.

One day their father is out of the picture and next thing they know he calls them and tells them he is coming back. At first Gem
Can I give all three of my stars to Mr. Bergstrom and Mrs. Murphy? Cause they deserved all the stars.

I'm just going to come right out and say that I think the money sub-plot didn't do anything good for this book. Yes, I understand that it comprised the bulk of the conflict, however my rule-following neurotic-mom self just cannot get behind such pointless (not to mention completely illegal) hijinks when a perfectly acceptable solution to Gem's problem was staring her right in the face from prett
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sara Zarr is an absolutely brilliant writer. One of the very, very best in YA - which is a genre I think has about the best writers writing today. This book is my favorite of her books so far: it is a magnificently told story of sisters struggling to find their identities as they struggle to navigate a world where their parents are criminally self-interested and, therefore, neglectful. Sara writes these dream descriptions, like having the point-of-view character, Gem, notice the way her uncle ho ...more
Stuff happens to most people. One thing going wrong, I mean. One family member missing a chance to help. One who cuts you off. One person with her own s**t to deal with.

One of those things isn't enough to send you falling through the cracks.

But all of them together, they accumulate. An abandoned mother here. A missing uncle there. A disappearing father two generations back. A friendship broken by fear or mistrust or addiction. Genes that make you vulnerable to certain problems. Two children who
Leanna Domalik
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This heart wrenching story of sisterhood and self-discovery is beautiful and relatable and surprising and painful. I felt like Gem and Dixie were real live people I could wrap my arms around or take to coffee. And even in their darkest hour, these girls felt complex and lovable, and I was always rooting for them.
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Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of seven novels, most recently Goodbye from Nowhere, and Courageous Creativity: Advice and Encouragement for the Creative Life--a book on creativity for the young and young-at-heart. She’s a National Book Award finalist and two-time Utah Book Award winner, and is the host and producer of the This Creative Life podcast. Her first book, Story of a Girl, was made int ...more

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“This was why Mom had told me to keep an eye on her. As tough as Dixie was, when it came to Dad she was a regular girl who wanted her father to love her. So” 2 likes
“Stuff happens to most people. One thing going wrong, I mean. One family member missing a chance to help. One who cuts you off. One person with her own shit to deal with. One of those things isn't enough to send you falling through the cracks. But all of them together, they accumulate. An abandoned mother here. A missing uncle there. A disappearing father 2 generations back. A friendship broken by fear or mistrust or addiction. Genes that make you vulnerable to certain problems. Two children who aren't loved right meeting up when they're not really adults yet and having 2 more children who aren't loved right. It adds up. It all adds up.” 2 likes
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