I admire Woodsen as an author who seeks to create culturally-relevant literature for children. But the whole time I read this, I thought of how it would translate to a child. As an inner city fourth grade teacher, this is exactly the kind of book I "think" would be great for kids, and looks meaningful on the bookshelf, but is abandoned almost immediately by young readers.
The words are lyrical, the plot is almost nonexistent, and the main character is too unrealistically adult in her thinking and speech. The whole time I was reading the book, all I could think of was, "No 11 year old girl talks like this!" Frannie's internal musings were so poetic and lofty that I feel like most children would not be able to connect to the character.
The only "action" in the book is when the bully goes to hit another kid, misses, and falls down. This small piece of action is picked apart for the rest of the book until the whole idea is threadbare. The author also threw out a bucketful of issues such as race, disability, socioeconomic status, religion, death, etc. This is the kind of book a critic would laud for being culturally minded and relevant, but there were too many starts of ideas and not enough depth. Woodsen's tactic seemed to be "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks." Nothing really does.
This is exactly the kind of children's book that is chosen for a prestigious awards by adults. I'm curious to hear what an actual child thinks after reading this book.