This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon.com. Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.
Bess is a new 6th grader. She's determined to appear different and make some cool new friends. Soon her perspective on what is important in life is going to change.
I think the relationships and development of characters is really genuine in this novel. Changing schools is a big burden, and kids do change. I would have gone with 11 being a bit young for developing boy-girl relationships, but what would I know? I completely understand Ethan and Bess' perspectives on it, and find it funny that their third friend is the one that makes a go of it.
What this novel really does is promote social responsibility. A soup kitchen, somewhere for people to sleep out of the rain and snow. I love that it's connected to a church, but that the church is not too churchy and preachy. I think that homelessness is more of a problem in the USA, but we certainly have our share of it here. If you have spare time, please do donate if you can.
I feel like Australian schools and parents are less pushy. In the plays I participated in, none of the stars or almost-stars were quite so Diva-y. And I was a stage manager, and it drove me nuts that people didn't pay attention to things, and I knew their lines better than they did. I wish I had seen more of the play. I'm not familiar with Bye Bye Birdy - maybe it is really relevant to the themes of the book? I would hope so. Charity is a virtue, and everyone should try to work to it.
I have a feeling that this novel is not good enough to jump the country divide. Grade 6 for Australians is the final year of primary school, so it wouldn't make a difference what you looked like. Also, the majority of schools here have a school uniform. There are still uncool people, and bitchy girls, but that's in any school. I say test it out in a classroom (because it asks lots of important questions), and see how it goes.
I have enjoyed other novels by Wittlinger, but this one falls short of the mark for me. I don't think I'll reread it, but I will put it on the shelf, in case I discover a home that it really needs (or that really needs it).
Everyday before I take a shower, I think of all the people who don't even have a place to clean themselves up. I think of all the people who don't even know where the next meal is going to come from. I think of all the people who one minute had it all, and now they have nothing. Gracie's girl is pretty much about a sensitive subject: homelessness and what we need to do in the community to help these people out and it's not as easy as what people think. There is no quick fix to these solutions, and sometimes just getting a job isn't always the answer. This book even though its for middle school kids should be read by everyone. Everyone that has ever thought anything about the homeless needs to read this book and perhaps they will see themselves and just how wrong their thinking is. Gracie and her friend Ethan are two middle school kids who are trying to help a homeless woman named Gracie and it isn't easy. Especially as it gets colder. And resources become scarce. The ending will make you cry and make you think about what you can do to help these people out.
Sixth grade is about to begin, and Bess Cunningham is gearing up to be cool. With a bunch of wild new outfits and an important job in the school play, Bess is convinced she'll get a lot of attention--at least more than she gets from her overbooked parents. With a lawyer dad and a teacher mom, both of whom are passionate about volunteering for a soup kitchen, Bess sometimes feels like she would have to eat out of a Dumpster before they'd notice her. But when she meets an elderly woman named Gracie who actually does eat other people's discarded food, she begins to realize there are real human faces on the scruffy people her parents serve at the soup kitchen. Soon she and her best friend, Ethan, are deeply entrenched in Gracie's life, and in helping establish a shelter for homeless women. Bess is amazed to discover that even without her crazy wardrobe, she has managed to make new friends and make a difference.
While reading this book,i started to cry. The prosperity of Bess is amazing. She is such a great,young girl who just wants to help one another. The way she endures the pain for Gracie,is incredible. At one point even though she thought she killed Grace,she was still doing the right thing. This book really did change my life,because it is so realistic. Plus,it can relate to me. Its taught me that helping others will really make a big effect on my life,and how i see things and people around me. And,in the end when she doesnt have Jake's attention,it really showed her up,strong side of security,for herself. Because,she didnt care what people said about her whenever she helped around in the homeless shelter. For doing the right thing,she still didnt get Jake's nice words,but really,in the end,she was the star. For all the hard,kind work she did for Gracie,it really did pay off in the end. I recommend it to anyone who hasnt read it yet.