Saturday, July 18, 2015

Hyacinth Girls, by Lauren Frankel

Hyacinth Girls is an exploration of adolescent friendships and bullying. Rebecca is 13-year-old Callie's guardian--her late mother's best friend (and a cousin of her late father). Rebecca is shocked when Callie's school reports that Callie was the perpetrator in a bullying incident. In fact, she refuses to believe it. But the truth of what is going on with Callie is complicated--and very frightening, as subsequent events reveal.

The book is told from both Rebecca and Callie's perspectives. Rebecca recounts events in the present, as she ruminates on her friendship with Callie's mother and everything that led up to her death and that of Callie's father. All of the family relationships seem tenuous/troubled, and Callie has a typical teenager's disdain for her guardian. Callie's story is told through a journal of her interactions with the girl she was accused of bullying; as they gradually reveal the "truth," the reader's sense of impending doom grows ever denser.

Hyacinth Girls reminded me of Reconstructing Amelia, as both have a similar theme--the world of teenage girls is terrifying and parents have no idea what is going on with their children. While there may be truth in those statements, reading stories designed to convey them isn't at all fun for the grandmother of an 8-year-old girl (and, perhaps because I'm in education, not really news either). The unlikeability of the characters and the somewhat leaden writing also contributed to my decision not to recommend this book.

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