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The Best Thing about this Book is either the mystery of the mother or the role of Wicked (the musical, yes). As is often the case with Barbara Dee novels, I love that this book is about normal, run-of-the-mill characters.
Premise: Wren used to be called Renata, but that name just doesn’t feel right anymore. Not since her parents got divorced, her dad got remarried, his new wife is pregnant, and Wren and her mother moved towns after some less-than-successful relationships. But when not much changes in the new town, Mom is acting strange, and Wren spends all her free time watching and practicing online make-up tutorials, something has to change. Will Wren be able to create successful relationships that celebrate her uniqueness? And what in the world is going on with Mom?
Target: 4-8 grade
Title: Before picking up this book, I assumed Violet was the protagonist’s name. Then, when it wasn’t, someone else important in the book. I was wrong. There is no character called Violet in this book, but names are important in it, so the choice of the title from an otherwise blip of a moment requires the reader to take a closer look at the moment it appears and its meaning. I won’t get into it too much so you can discover it for yourself, but they are talking about flowers when the line appears in the book. At least, on a literal level.
Main Character(s): Wren, 12 y.o. (she/her)
Motifs (not exhaustive): friendship, secrets, starting over, divorce, make-up, weirdness, other, theater, mother daughter relationship, substance abuse, blended family
Great for…* (readers): who feel as though they don’t belong.
Great for…* (teachers): analyzing symbolic actions, especially Wren’s love of make-up and where she stores the make-up her step-mother sends her as well as her mother’s sudden need to lock doors.
Parental Warning(s): None.
Interact: If you could learn how to do the makeup for any character (book, film, comic, theater, etc.), which would you choose and why?
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*The “Great for” category is not exhaustive and does not intend to neglect the multitude of readers/teachers who could learn from this book in any number of ways.
٭ = DNF, would not recommend
٭٭ = would not recommend
٭٭٭ = enjoyable, would recommend
٭٭٭٭ = very good, would recommend
٭٭٭٭٭ = amazing, would definitely recommend