Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shark Girl

Bingham, Kelly. 2007. Shark Girl.

A verse novel. I typically love or hate verse novels. Sonya Sones, I love her verse novels. Ellen Hopkins, hit or miss with me most of the time. So I didn't know quite what to expect from Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham. Jane is a young teen (15 going on 16) whose life changes dramatically after a day at the beach. As you can probably guess by the title, Jane is the victim of a shark attack. She survives--her right arm doesn't. The novel is about how she recovers, how she refocuses, how she redefines herself, her life. Who is she now? Is she the "victim" or the "brave" survivor, Shark Girl, that the media wants her to be? Is she the same person as she was before? After all, she has dreamed of being an artist practically her whole life. She's won competitions and everything. Her philosophy for a while is "now what????" Most YA books deal with identity and redefining yourself and fine-tuning what you want and who you are and all. Most YA book deal with family relationships, family boundaries, and friendship and high school, etc. This one does that but it's original, unique. Jane's voice is unique, authentic, genuine. Her problems are real. Her emotions--like all humans--fluctuate and change minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, etc. This book has a little something for everyone.

Here's an example of the writing:


It sounds cliched.
But at times like this,
I miss my dad.
I mean,
I don't remember him--
he died of cancer when I was three.
are all that's left.
My favorite one is us
sitting on a bench, eating ice cream.
Our knees are knobby the same way,
we're both grinning like hyenas,
he's pointing at the camera.

I haven't had a dad in twelve years.
Most of the time,
that's okay.
But today,
right now,
I'd like a hug.
From him. (23)

And this one...


I try to fill Mel's journal.
It will help, he said.
Writing a bit each day,
sparsely. The words don't
come easily. Never have. I'm not
much of a storyteller. But . . .

I could tell my story.
The Shark Girl's story.
And out of a shark's bite
could arise a fresh, raw
writer, poignant, powerful,
with a story that would win a Pulitzer.
I could.

Then I remember.
I don't like to write,
and I don't want to learn
to like to write.
and my life is private.

So back to my entry.

I got dressed by myself. (106)


Em said...

Verse novels don't normally do it for me but this one sounds good. I'll have to check it out.

Ms. Yingling said...

Have you seen the Helen Frost novels in verse? They are in various poetic forms, with explanation at the back, and very nice. Spinning Through the Universe and Keesha's House circulate well in my library. I loved The Braid, but since it's historical fiction, it has a double whammy against it.