April 04, 2013

A mugging gone wrong leads to second chances

By Carolita Blythe
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At 14, Faye has learned her place in life the hard way. She is bullied by rich girls in her neighborhood, so when she finally makes friends who stick up for her, she goes along with their plans—even when that includes beating up and robbing the same girls who once picked on them. When they rob an elderly woman in her own apartment, things go horribly wrong, and Faye may be responsible for a lot more than some simple payback. It may come back to bite Faye, or it might be the wake-up call she needs to turn her life around.

When author Carolita Blythe modulates the high emotions and stark good-versus-evil tone, Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl is great. Saddled with an unstable and abusive mom, a loving but absent father and friends who reinforce her isolation, Faye thinks life is simple: It simply sucks for people like her. But she has a conscience, and the friendship she forms with the woman she robbed leads to new possibilities and a shot at happiness.

It would have been great to get more insight into Faye's background (her family is from Dominica, not the Dominican Republic). Her mother prepared one meal that was drool-worthy to read about, and their Catholic faith figures heavily into Faye's evolution (she calls one of her teachers “Devil Nun”). These glimpses are some of the book's strongest material. Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl works in broad strokes, but the emphasis on self-respect is worth repeating, especially to high-risk kids like Faye. Life gets better, but only when you work to make it so.

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Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl

Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl

By Carolita Blythe
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN 9780385742863

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