Saturday, June 30, 2012

Guest Post- Ann Weir's review of Teresa Toten's Me and the Blondes

This tween novel humorously depicts the sometimes painful ways in which teenagers struggle to be accepted and feel good about who they really are at the same time. Sophie Kandinsky, a self described “mongrel”, originally born in Hungary to an eccentric Bulgarian mother and a kindly Polish father, is enrolling in Grade 9 in yet another new school in North Toronto. Sophie’s poet father has managed to be convicted of manslaughter, simply by being drunk in the wrong place at the wrong time, causing Sophie to be an outcast at the numerous schools she has attended over the past six years. This time, Sophie’s mother has a plan; to claim that Sophie’s father is dead, rather than in jail. Sophie has her own plan; to target the popular and successful Blondes at her newest school and make them her friends.  

Me and the Blondes is an upbeat story filled with charming and likable characters. Sophie is smart, mature and imaginative. Sophie’s mother and her group of aunties stand out as funny, loving and unashamed of who they are. Although much of the novel comes across as light-hearted, the author doesn’t shy away from difficult topics such as Sophie’s anger with her father for the pain his imprisonment causes her mother, her coming of age and her guilt and shame at lying to her new friends. This girl struggles, despite being “in” with the Blondes, who have actually turned out to be good kids and great friends. But in the end, Sophie stays true to herself, successfully deals with a bunch of things and moves forward. This is a good book for tween girls, and their parents.

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