Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book Review of The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances O'Roark Dowell





Author: Frances O'Roark Dowell
Release Date: August 28th, 2012
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
3.5 Stars - I liked it 

Synopsis:
Is it possible to start afresh when you’re thoroughly weighted down?Seventeen pounds. That’s the difference between Abigail Walker and Kristen Gorzca. Between chubby and slim, between teased and taunting. Abby is fine with her body and sick of seventeen pounds making her miserable, so she speaks out against Kristen and her groupies—and becomes officially unpopular. Embracing her new status, Abby heads to an abandoned lot across the street and crosses an unfamiliar stream that leads her to a boy who’s as different as they come.
Anders is homeschooled, and while he’s worried that Abby’s former friends are out to get her, he’s even more worried about his dad, a war veteran home from Iraq who is dangerously disillusioned with life. But if his dad can finish his poem about the expedition of Lewis and Clark, if he can effectively imagine what it is to experience freshness and innocence, maybe he will be okay. As Abby dives into the unexpected role as research assistant, she just as unexpectedly discovers that by helping someone else find hope in the world, there is plenty there for herself, as well.

Review:
First I would like to thank Siena Koncsol at Simon and Shuster for sending me a copy of this book for review.  This is only the second book ever sent to me from a publisher for review! My first was Ten Miles Past Normal, also by Frances O'Roark Dowell.  Even though her work is not in my usual genre, I am happy to read it, and do enjoy her work.  
The Second Life of Abigail Walker is a coming of age novel about a middle school girl dealing with all the normal problems associated with a "medium" girl.  A medium girl in this book is considered to be a slightly overweight girl, not fat but not rail thin either.  Abigail is forced to cope with a very typical bully situation that young unpopular girls have to go through.  Her friends are insecure with themselves and don't like that she sticks up for herself and doesn't conform with their thoughts and ideas.  They persecute her because she doesn't believe that making yourself throw up is a good way to lose weight.  They mock her pudginess and flaunt treats at her.  Even her parents make her feel bad about herself, and try to push these friends on her without listening to their own child to how they treat her.   
Abigail is strong enough to separate herself from these so called friends and slowly finds some new ones.  She finds confidence she never knew she had.  She sticks up for herself against her parents and her old friends.  She even learns that being healthy and active make you feel better in the end.
This book really hits home with me right now. My daughter just started junior high and I already see the who the mean girls are and how they treat her.  She doesn't conform to them either, and doesn't care what they think when she wears cowboy boots and camo to school.  She doesn't let them make her choices for her.  I can still see the times when she feels that pang of unwanted-ness, but she pushes though.  I am so proud of her and wish that more girls could be as strong as she is.   I might make her read this next. (If I could get her to put down Cassandra Clares Mortal Instruments Series.) 
To sum it up, I loved Abigail Walkers spirit and perseverance, but didn't understand the fox correlation.  I would recommend this book to any middle school girl looking for a little more confidence and understanding that you can be yourself.          

Photo and Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

                 

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