Friday, October 28, 2011

My Lousiana Sky, by Kimberly Willi Holt

This is the kind of book I devoured by the dozen when I was a middle-schooler. On the young end of the YA spectrum, it features a misunderstood heroine on the brink of adolescence, struggling with issues that are just a little harder than average.

This charming novel has an interesting twist on the outcast theme: 12-year-old Tiger's parents are what is currently called developmentally disabled. In 1957, when the book takes place, they were referred to as retarded, or worse. When Tiger's grandmother dies, she's invited to move to the city to live with her glamorous aunt. But there's the question of who will take care of her parents, especially now that her grief-stricken mother refuses to bathe or leave the house.

Tiger is a red-headed tomboy, which is probably reason enough for her to be ignored by the popular girls. Add her embarrassing parents, and you can just imagine the catty comments. Her mother, however, is sweet and kind, her father hard-working and gentle. This is a classic don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover story, with the good and pure ultimately winning out over the mean and incompetent. Oh, that life could mirror formulaic children's literature!

I'd recommend this to girls in the 10-13 age group. It's thought-provoking in a quick-read kind of way, with a very satisfying it's-okay-to-be-yourself message.

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