Thursday, June 9, 2011

REVIEW: Reaching for Sun

Zimmer, T.V.  (2007).  Reaching for Sun.  New York:  Bloomsbury.

181 pages.

Appetizer:  Josie Wyatt is in the seventh grade.  She lives with her mom (who is almost never around since she's trying to complete her college degree) and her grandmother.  She hates school.  She's never met her father.  Her family has had to sell most of their farm land and must watch subdivisions for the rich be built around their house.  She is bullied by most of the kids at school.  And she has cerebral palsy.

Reaching for the Sun is set over (just about) a year as Josie makes her first friend, deals with her grandmother's deteriorating health and struggles to find the words to get her mom to let her not participate in a summer clinic designed to help her with her cerebral palsy.

This novel in verse is written by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, a local author who I have heard speak a couple of time, and who (full-disclosure!) made contact with the literary agency that would eventually represent me.  So far, this is my favorite book by her.  Josie's voice is honest and poignant.  The moment that really drew me in was when she thinks about what type of man her absentee-father must be:
"I wonder
if he ditched me and Mom
when he found out about my disability,
or if it gave him the excuse he needed--
typed letter left behind in the mailbox,
no stamp.
I wonder if I got my straight
blond hair, blue eyes,
and cowardice from him,
and whether he's real smart,
rich, and now got himself
a picture-perfect family" (p. 15)

Throughout the book, there are also illustrations of a flower growing in the bottom right margin of each page.  As you go through the story, Josie grows and blossoms as a character and the flower grows and blossoms too.  I thought this was a wonderful touch that complimented the content and name of the story beautifully.

Overall, I found Reaching for Sun to be a very touching and realistic story of a girl coming into her own.

Dinner Conversation:

"The last bell rings,
I'm hiding
in the last stall
of the girls' bathroom
until I hear
disappear behind closing
classroom doors.

Only then
do I slip out
into the deserted hallway
and rush to room 204,
a door
no one
wants to be seen opening.

Not even
me."  (p. 3).

"With my odd walk
and slow speech
everyone knows
I've got special ed,
but if I wait
until the hall clears,

taunts like tomatoes
don't splatter
the back of my head" (p. 4).

"Mom wants me
to love school like she does,
follow her lead to college,
make my mark:
the first astronaut with
cerebral palsy,
or at least
a doctor or lawyer,
something with a title or abbreviations, I guess.
But Mom's dreams for me
are a heavy wool coat I
wear, even in summer."  (p.46).

Tasty Rating:  !!!!

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