We’ve had THE COLOR PURPLE, THE BLUEST EYE, and PUSH. Now a slice of the underbelly of inadequate families for middle-graders. Ms. Brubaker Bradley boldly and with surprising humor tackles one of the culture’s most forbidden subjects. (I know grown women who refuse to listen to stories of rape or incest.) But children have been and remain far too vulnerable to sexual predation. (What are the statistics? deplorable!) Kids need to learn how to act in self-defense because they have far too long been the voiceless victims with no useful vocabulary to describe abuse or even properly understand it.
Kudos to this admittedly partisan own-voice author who presents a compelling story of two sisters recently removed from a terrible home situation and who now must come to terms with their victimhood and their abuser in their own (and sometimes outrageous) ways.
This novel may be a challenging read to the target age group, but I think it’s a necessary right of passage for all ages. The book should be available in every school and/or local library in multiple copies.
My only niggle is that, despite allusions to long-term domestic terror, Ms. Brubaker Bradley has been forced to pull the veil over the actual sexual acts involved. That vocabulary remains vague even here, but she provides a wonderful quasi-sexual classroom parallel that leads to the notion of Consent for all people of all ages.
This is a wonderful start to opening some long-closed doors, and also a gripping bildungsroman of Delicious/Della’s brave journey to recovery.