Sunday, December 28, 2008

Review: The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick

This post's subtitle:

Why I Can't Review MG Books Anymore! -tear-

Total: Two stars

{Summary From Back Cover}

The book club is about to get a makeover...

Even if Megan would rather be at the mall, Cassidy is late for hockey practice, Emma's already read every book in existence, and Jess is missing her mother too much to care, the new book club is scheduled to meet every month.

But what begins as a mom-inspired ritual reading of Little Women, soon helps four unlikely friends navigate the drama of middle school. From stolen journals to secret crushes to a fashion-fiasco first dance, the girls are up to their Wellie boots in drama. They can't help but wonder: What would Jo March do?

Behind The Grade:

So, this was the hardest book for me to grade in a long time. I can pinpoint it down to one reason: I'm older than the main characters and I can't seem to relate to them.

This would definitely have been one of my favourite books when I was at their age: in the sixth grade. It's impossible for middle grade readers not to relate to one of the four girls that make up the daughters' end of the book club (as well as pushing out of their stereoytpes): popular Megan, nerdy Emma, tomboyish Cassidy and down-to-earth Jess.

Except...I'm not their age anymore. As someone who eagerly kissed the sixth grade goodbye quite a while ago, I know how ridiculous and wrong some of the aspects of this novel are. I know that middle school in America starts in the sixth grade (in Canada, you start in seventh), so it's realistic that the girls would have their first school dance then, but...a formal? With frilly dresses and slow songs and photo ops? Not how my first dance went, I'll tell you that much.

Also, the girls have quite enviable vocabularies. Even the girls like Megan, Jess and Cassidy, who are portrayed as less academic, use words more likely found in Little Women than out of a sixth-grader's mouth. I could imagine Emma, the studious, dorky one, using dictionary-length words, but the others girls...? Not so much. Also on the (Un)Realism Scale, this book is about as foul-mouthed as a television evangelist. That is to say, not at all. I don't know about you all, but sixth grade was about the time when everyone started discovering the joy of cursing.

I understand this is a children's book, but couldn't Frederick have thrown a bone and at least had, say, Cassidy or one of the boys mutter 'crap' or something?

Furthermore, I loathed the changing-POVs with a passion. This is something I hate in books. If a book is going to be first person, can't it be from just one character's perspective so you can grow attached to them? I didn't like any of the four girls here.

To be clear, I'm not saying this is a bad book - it's not. It's just not very realistic and not enjoyable for someone older than the main characters. Give this as a present for your younger sister or niece - but take a pass on reading it yourself.


Alea said...

I love rotating points of view, makes it hard to get sick of characters. That's too bad you didn't like this one.

Bookworm said...

I really liked this one--and I have the sequel, MUCH ADO ABOUT ANNE, on my bookshelf. I actually liked the changing POV. But I see what you mean about being older than the characters...I'm starting to feel that way about The Clique even though I'm not that much older than them (boo-hoo).