Monday, April 30, 2012

Wreath: A Novel

Brave, resourceful, and determined, Wreath Wisteria Willis is still vulnerable enough to be believable.  Judy Christie's sixteen-year-old heroine in Wreath:  A Novel is growing up alone since her mother died.  Instead of turning herself in to the foster care system, Wreath runs away, hoping to bury her grief, as well as her identity.  In order to survive, she also must steer clear of her mother's boyfriend who committed a crime only Wreath can prove.

Wreath writes lists, overcomes her fears, and even gets a job.  Her book smarts and quick wit make living in an abandoned junkyard bearable.  With the help of her boss, a teacher at school, a town lawyer and a boy in her class, Wreath may be able to make a new life for herself.  Eventually, though, her stories start to unravel.  As she gets closer to people in her new town, they realize not all of her claims add up. 

When her mother's boyfriend shows up in town, will Wreath be able to continue with her plans for Prom, graduation and college, or will she be derailed and have to run again?

What I Like:  I like Wreath a lot.  She is a lovable girl, with lots of talents, but she is afraid to stand out, or let herself hope things will get better.  She is believable whether she is fixing up the abandoned van she lives in, rummaging for "vintage" hand-me-downs,  crying because she can't take a shower on the first day of school, or giving her real name by mistake, in a flustered moment.  She is a girl readers will alternately identify with,  feel sorry for and admire.

I also like the gentleness of the book.  Although Wreath's mother's boyfriend was abusive, nothing disturbing is described.  Also, as Wreath and Law (the cute boy from school) begin to become attached to each other, their interactions consist mostly of him trying to get her to go to youth group or go to his grandparents' for dinner after church. 

Gentle writing doesn't mean the book is slow, however.  On the contrary, Christie keeps us turning pages long after bedtime just to solve the mystery of Wreath's past and learn what the future holds for her.

What I Dislike:  Nothing about the writing.  One of my pet peeves, however, is when publishers put a photograph-style picture on the front of teen books.  In my city, we have large Hmong, KaRen, Somali, Indian, Hispanic and African-American populations, as well as teens from other groups.  The girl on the cover has auburn hair, hazel eyes, and white skin.  She is beautiful, but many teens prefer to read books if they can identify with the characters. I would find it much easier to use the book in a classroom library if there were symbols or graphics on the cover, instead of a photo.  The book mentions Wreath's hazel eyes, but the rest of her appearance is not emphasized.

Overall Rating:  Excellent, despite the cover image

Age Appeal:  Teens

Publisher Info: Barbour Publishing, 2011; ISBN: 978-1-61626-45209; Paperback, 282 pages, $9.99

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1 comment:

Annette {This Simple Home} said...

I agree about photographs. I don't care for them, especially when you can see the model's face. Let the reader use their minds to create it! Also, it dates the book. For nonfiction books, I think it puts too much emphasis on the author...