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Freak

by Marcella Pixley

Published by Melanie Kroupa Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007
131 pages
ISBN: 0–374–32453–0

Ages 11-14

Seventh grader Miriam Fisher’s vivid imagination and gift for the spoken and written word aren’t talents appreciated among her peers. A social outcast at school, at home the bond she once shared with her older sister has dissolved with Deborah’s initiation into high school and the cult of the beautiful. High school senior Artie Johnson has moved in with Miriam’s family to complete the school year after his parents move. Miriam’s personality shines around Artie, the one person she feels truly understands her. And he truly likes her as a friend. But if Miriam ever harbored the idea there could be something more between them, it’s dashed with an unintentionally cruel statement from Artie about her looks, and ground to bits when he and Deborah start dating. Her hurt bleeds over into school, where endless teasing by Jenny Clarke, a leader of the pack of popular girls, turns crueler by the day. In a raw and haunting scene expressing her hurt and self-hatred, Miriam effects a physical transformation. At first, she only gets more negative attention, but the change marks the beginning of her transcendence. By the story’s end, Miriam is a young woman unwilling to be afraid any longer, one who is at peace with herself, and ready to meet the world. The realistic depiction of two sisters struggling with their changing relationship, and parents unable to see the depth of their child’s pain, are just two of the many fine dimensions of Marcella Pixley’s heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful first novel.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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