Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Second Life of Abigail Walker (MG)

The Second Life of Abigail Walker. Frances O'Roark Dowell. 2012. Simon & Schuster. 240 pages.

I really liked Frances O'Roark Dowell's newest book, the Second Life of Abigail Walker. It didn't wow me as much as Kristin Levine's The Lions of Little Rock OR Rebecca Stead's Liar & Spy, but, it was a gentle, satisfying exploration of first friendship. The heroine, Abigail Walker, does not have many friends, and what "friends" she did have once her true best friend moved away the year before, she's since lost because she was brave enough to stand up for herself. (Her new "friends" liked to pick on her every day, boss her around, call her names, criticize her, etc.) When she didn't say, "yes, you're right, throwing up would be a great way for me to lose weight," well she became "dead" to them and they started making her life miserable. But this is a hopeful story in many, many ways, a quirky story too. (Every other chapter was narrated by a fox.) For Abigail does find her way, she does make new friends, she is able to bring hope and joy to others just by her being herself. The message was a good one. And I did like many things about this one. I liked the friendship theme. I didn't enjoy the focus on Abby's weight as much, though I suppose it felt authentic enough in showing her daily struggles. But it was sad too. The pressure others put on her in addition to the messages she told herself, it all felt sad to me. I could see *why* she was turning to food. It isn't a book with an easy answer at the end, which was good, I suppose.

Personally, I think I would have loved this one a little bit more without the fox fantasy-elements. But I think it is still a good read.


Read The Second Life of Abigail Walker
  • If you are a fan of Frances O'Roark Dowell
  • If you like MG fiction, coming of age stories
  • If you like stories about the healing powers of friendship

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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