When you’re ten, eleven, and twelve, and an indiscriminate reader, you read a lot of junk. My book selection methods were pretty simple in those days. I’d go to the library, find a turnstile, and flip through every book on it. If I hadn’t read it already, it came off the turnstile and into my arms. Twenty books later, I left for another week (during the summer) or two (during the school year).
Those books had a wide variety of plots and themes, but every lot had at least one book about feeling like you don’t fit in and another about some kind of bullying. I rarely liked them, but I read them anyway.
Look, I was always the new kid. I never fit in. Add to that that I was usually the “poor” kid in a school full of doctors’, dentists’, and lawyers’ kids, and yeah. I got a lot of nastiness. You’d think I’d have related to the books, but I always saw them as overly simplistic. Wrapped up too easily. The same story with different settings and names.
Back then, if you’d have told me that someone could send mean notes to a bunch of people all at once—could easily pretend to be someone else and hide it well—I’d have laughed. The concept of the Internet and cellphones that weren’t the size of a flat iron (something no 80s girl would have touched) were beyond our comprehension.
Still, at the core, somethings have never changed.
Tween and teen girls still want to be accepted—be popular. I never got that, because I didn’t consider it real popularity if it was just you molding yourself to be what someone else wanted you to be. What can I say? I was one of those too old for my years kids.
I watched it when I was a kid, and I’ve even seen it recently in the local homeschool group. Kids who think they are friends with one kid will discover that since they enter high school a year later, some of their friends no longer consider them “cool enough” to associate with.
Yeah. It’s a thing. Parents are often blind to it, too.
Some parents have this erroneous idea that if they keep their kids away from those horrible public schools, selfish sinfulness just magically disappears. Sorry. Not a thing. Unless you teach your kids how to treat people and monitor their behavior, they won’t just magically be kind because their school co-op has “Christian” in the name. Sorry to burst that bubble.
Maybe that’s why I decided to review a couple of new books by Melody Carlson—Being Zoey.
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What I Like & Don’t Like about These Books
I’m going to do a quasi quick and dirty review because I’ve got two books and not a lot of time.
One of the best things about this book is how Melody Carlson didn’t wrap Zoey into a stereotypical tween and slap her on the pages of the book. Zoey has a distinctive and relatable personality. She’s just quirky enough to be interesting and normal enough to be realistic. As a kid who moved and was the new girl all the time, I got her frustration with being ripped out of her life and plunked down elsewhere.
That said, some of the phrasing was rather odd for a kid that age. I’ve not heard many kids that age calling people “whackadoodles” or talking about their “hind end.” I’m not saying none do it. I know I’ve even heard “whackadoodle” on one of those tween shows on TV. But the context there felt like it wasn’t common speech as much as that kid’s quirk. So, tweens might be turned off if it feels “out of date.” I don’t know. I’m not up on hip speech (hence, the use of the word hip—which wasn’t even a thing when I was a kid!).
I loved that Carlson tried to take the age-old issues and bring them into the 21st century and yet still show it’s the same root core—kids really good at hiding their sinful hearts and working their hardest to making others as miserable as they are.
I didn’t do a lot of laughing or any crying in the book, but I didn’t rush to put it down, either. Yes, I read fast. No, I didn’t pay close attention to every word. Then again, I’m not the author’s target market.
Would my almost fifteen-year-old like it? No. But then, she’s not the target market, either. Would my eleven-year-old granddaughter like it… maybe. Maybe. We’ll see if she decides to read or not.
Like the first book in this series, this book deals with feeling out of your element, trying to fit in, bullying, and pushes into new territory with identity theft.
This one actually felt more realistic to me. I think because Carlson managed to create and maintain a sense of foreboding through the whole thing. You know everything isn’t right. I found myself wanting to tell Zoey to just walk away.
A few things were a little contrived and convenient, but I think it was kind of necessary. I mean, these books have a point to them. The adults in your life are going to make mistakes, but they are there to help. You just have to give them a chance.
Carlson managed to do that without preaching that point. That said, few kids would develop the spiritual maturity that Zoey does as quickly as she does. It’s realistic for her, but I’m not sure kids would see that nuance.
All in all, the Being Zoey books infuse faith elements and topics that I think a lot of kids would relate to. I just don’t know who I’d recommend them for.
On the other hand, thanks to a couple of free review copies of the Being Zoey series, I got a nice walk through my childhood fictional fare and a reminder of why I don’t miss that part of school.
Meet the Misfits and Odd Girl Out are on tour with Celebrate Lit
About the Book
Author: Melody Carlson
Genre: Middle-grade fiction for girls
Release Date: April 15/ August 15, 2019
Zoey’s pretty sure her life is over when her wannaba-rockstar mother uproots her from from their home in Seattle and deposits her in Nowheresville, Oregon to live with her whackadoodle grandparents.
Things start to look up, though, when she reconnects with Louisa, the girl from across the street. Maybe, just maybe, Louisa won’t mind that Zoey’s always been a bit of a misfit.
Louisa’s ex-BFF, however, doesn’t seem too happy to welcome Zoey to the neighborhood. And when they all end up at church camp together, it’s not just a matter of whether or not Zoey can fit in…it becomes a firsthand lesson in what it really means to “love your enemy.”
When the school year begins, Zoey’s terrified to go without Louisa—who’s out with a nasty flu.
The same enemies she made over the summer are there to haunt her, but she and another new girl stick together…and even seem to find a place among the in-crowd.
But is this who Zoey wants to be? Are they really her friends? Who’s going to stick beside her when cyberbullying leaves her as the odd girl out?
About the Author:
Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books for teens, women, and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.”
Her young adult novels appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including RT’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV.
Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.
More from Melody
Being a tween these days is more complicated than ever. With our culture’s fast pace, social networking, peer pressure . . . growing up is hard to do. So I wanted to create a relatable character with some tough challenges. And Zoey Petrizzo definitely gets more than her fair share.
About to start middle-school, Zoey is forced to relocate her life with her less than conventional grandparents. And it’s not easy! My hope is that readers will either relate to Zoey, or develop more empathy for ‘misfit’ kids like her.
A Baker’s Perspective, August 29
Blogging With Carol, August 29
Andrea Christenson, August 30
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 30
Where Crisis & Christ Collide, August 31
Christian Bookaholic , August 31
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, September 1
Remembrancy, September 1
Older & Smarter?, September 2
Artistic Nobody, September 2
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 3
Back Porch Reads , September 3
Through the Fire Blogs, September 4
Just the Write Escape, September 5
amandainpa , September 5
A Reader’s Brain, September 6
Patiently Waiting, September 6
Godly Book Reviews, September 7
Locks, Hooks and Books, September 7
Texas Book-aholic, September 8
For the Love of Books , September 8
Reader’s Cozy Corner, September 9
Vicky Sluiter, September 9
Hallie Reads, September 10
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 10
janicesbookreviews, September 11
Inklings and notions , September 11
To celebrate her tour, Melody is giving away a grand prize package of Meet the Misfits and Odd Girl Out, Sketching Pencils, and a Sketchbook!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/e809/meet-the-misfits-odd-girl-out-celebration-tour-giveaway