Oddball entry: my reviews are on Amazon and Goodreads, but this one deserves a place in my space.
I’m a bit late to the game on reading this 2014 MG novel, but with current era I have much reading time and am clearing up my “Wish List” on Amazon (many of the books I buy from indies, using Amazon for the online list!).
This story of fifth-grader Star Mackie was fresh and important, mastering a theme I follow: sibling relationships. This is an inside and outside perspective, as we learn about Star’s relationship with her older sister and with two other kids at school, brother and sister. One is Star’s friend and another’s her enemy. There is also an undertheme, as her mother’s best friend and neighbor, appearing in many scenes, show a sister-like relationship. A refreshing change from single parent or Dad-and-Mom-said stories.
The environment in this story was built carefully and is authentic, as Star lives in a trailer park. She’s teased at school (called “Star Trashy”) but doesn’t wallow in self-pity. It’s more an indictment of the other kids who don’t understand family life for lower-class Americans.
As Star navigates her new school, she strives for friends and gains a handful of oddball ones. Meanwhile, her teen sister vascillates between helpful and moody, more mysterious than ever until Star finds out the real problem. And it’s a big one.
I was especially impressed with her portrayals of three other characters: Eddie, Langston, and Denny (especially Denny). This near-even mix of boys and girls in a story, without them being a “type” (the musical one, the oddball one, the pretty one, etc.) is one of the best portrayals of a mixed-gender group I’ve seen in MG.
One more big discovery for Star near the end of the story–a real shocker–BEGS for a sequel. I don’t see one yet, though, and maybe the author did not intend it. But I’d love a sequel. I didn’t want to let these characters go.