Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Heart of a Fighter, I'm a Survivor

Published:  May 8th, 2012
The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls
By: Julie Schumacher
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13:  9780385737739

I'm Adrienne Haus, survivor of a mother-daughter book club. Most of us didn't want to join. My mother signed me up because I was stuck at home all summer, with my knee in a brace. CeeCee's parents forced her to join after cancelling her Paris trip because she bashed up their car. The members of "The Unbearable Book Club," CeeCee, Jill, Wallis, and I, were all going into eleventh grade A.P. English. But we weren't friends. We were literary prisoners, sweating, reading classics, and hanging out at the pool. If you want to find out how membership in a book club can end up with a person being dead, you can probably look us up under mother-daughter literary catastrophe. Or open this book and read my essay, which I'll turn in when I go back to school.


     Adrienne Haus was supposed to go on a wilderness canoeing trip in Canada with her BFF (her only friend at all, really) but a knee injury has derailed that plan and left Adrienne stranded with only her Mom for company over the vacation months.  Then her Mom joins a yoga group with other Moms from school and they decide to start a Mother-Daughter book club to get through the daughters' summer reading assignments.  Attendance isn't optional and this an awkward thing at first, since none of the girls really know each other.  But Adrienne may have more in common with overachieving Jill, shy and insecure Wallis and rich party girl CeeCee than she ever thought.  As the girls make their way through the book list, Adrienne begins to question the denial she's been comfortably living in.  Who is her Father and why did he leave them?  Why won't her Mom tell her anything at all about him?  Also, why is Wallis' Mom never at book club and their house is off limits for meetings?  Engaging in reckless behavior with CeeCee becomes an outlet for Adrienne, but one night when Jill and Wallis tag along someone is seriously injured.  Will the girls be able to recover from a devastating incident that will change them forever and bring them closer together?  I liked Adrienne's writing voice, since the entire book is written as her term paper on the summer book assignments.  It also tells the story of her trying to find out who she is in relation to the world - to create her own individual identity.  CeeCee was quite annoying because she never really seemed to learn anything and really only ever caused trouble for the other girls, without any apparent remorse.  Jill definitely had more buried beneath the surface, but the majority of the book is spent with Adrienne and CeeCee, so those possibilities went unexplored.  The big mystery still left at the end of the book (with the answer hinted at, but never really clarified) was whether or not Wallis and her Mom were in Witness Protection or on the run from an abusive husband/Father/stalker.  That is definitely what it was made to seem like had happened to them.  At the end of the book the lack of resolution between Adrienne and her Mom about the Dad situation may have been realistic, but it was very unsatisfying as a reader.  Especially since that seemed to be one of the main conflicts in the storyline.  Overall, it was an interesting book and I did like getting to know Adrienne.  But I think it could have been a lot more interesting and a bit longer too.

*Books read by the girls in the novel for their book club:
- The Yellow Wallpaper by: Charlotte Anna Perkins
- Frankenstein by: Mary Shelley
- The Left Hand of Darkness by: Ursula K. LeGuin
- The House on Mango Street by: Sandra Cisneros
- The Awakening by: Kate Chopin

VERDICT:  3.25/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.*

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