Middle school girls with medium lives can be very, very mean. It's subtle and hard to prove sometimes but when you are caught in their web, it can be an intense and painful problem that no one else can help you with .... maybe.
This is the world of eleven year old Abigail Walker known to her classmates as Tubby Abby. This is the world where no one sits with her on the bus, and her parents try to get her to eat one slice of cheese pizza instead of three slices of sausage pizza.
Abby is drowning her feelings in food. She's got stashes of candy and sleeves of graham crackers for armor. She has lost her best friend to a move and now she's trying to survive on the fringes of a group ruled by a girl named Kristen. The dynamics between Kristen, Georgia, Casey, Rachel, Myla, Bess on one side of the cafeteria and Abby on the other, are vividly painful and all too familiar to most of us. Why do these girls want to pick on Abby? What do they hope to gain? We all know the desperate need to belong and we watch with dread as Abby faces the humiliation and ostracism that come when the queen bee decides to make you her target.
But this is not a simple story of one girl against the middle school world. It's a story about all of us. We all have a story and we all have things that are so scary that it seems no one can help us with them. This is a story spun of lines of a web of stories that connect us all and they're all fragile lines and fragile stories. But they have some amazing strength in them and they hold together and sometimes we are holding each other together.
It's told magically and powerfully from two points of view. First the point of view of Abby, our heroine, who is going to have to decide if she is going to change or not and if she is going to be open to the new possibilities that life is leading to her door. Second it's told from the point of view of a fox....a fox who has a recurring nightmare and lives in a field near Abby's home.
The vicious animals in the story are eleven year old girls. The most frightened character may be the father of Abby's new friend, Anders, a soldier recently returned from Iraq who has post traumatic stress syndrome.
At the most primal level we all sense our own fears and we wish and hope and dream that somewhere there is a magical, powerful force that can deliver us from evil ...that can protect us and reassure us that all is well.
There were two moments in this story that caught me off guard and sent me to the tissue box. I offer you that info simply so you'll know that this is not an ordinary story. It's a story of wonder and possibilities and above all finding the courage to believe in yourself and trust yourself and your world. Bullies beware... if everyone reads this book... you don't stand a chance.
228 pages 978-1442405936 Ages 9-13
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com