Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Mike and his grumpy boyfriend, Chad, offer her a summer job in their flower store, Apron’s world seems to calm. But when she uncovers Chad’s secret, coming of age becomes almost too much bear. She’s forced to see things the adults around her fail to—like what love really means and who is paying too much for it. -- Fiction Studio
When author Jennifer Gooch Hummer approached me about reading her new novel GIRL UNMOORED, I jumped at the chance to read this novel. I really wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this novel, but I figured there was a pretty good chance that I'd like it... especially when I read the blurbs from some well-respected authors. Little did I know just how much I'd end up loving this story. It was that good!
GIRL UNMOORED tells the story of Apron, a young girl whose life is falling apart. Her mother has died and her father is marrying her pregnant stepmother whom Apron does not like. To make matters even worse, her best friend at school has decided to hang out with a different set of friends. So when she enters a church and meets a man who looks just like Jesus, she finds that her life begins to change in more ways than she could have ever expected. Because of the time she spends with Mike (aka Jesus) and his boyfriend Chad, she learns some valuable life lessons about love and loss, and she finds that a good friendship can help her become "moored" again.
I know I'm a sucker for a good coming-of-age story, but GIRL UNMOORED knocked my socks off! I was drawn into Apron's story from the get-go and I immediately fell in love with her. Life was so unfair to this child and my heart broke for her over and over again; but I sensed that she was a survivor and I just knew that she was a special girl. And what a special girl she was! Apron managed to impress me time and time again with her maturity and insight into some very complicated issues. In fact, I'd have to say that Apron taught me a thing or two about love and friendship.
One of the things that I appreciated about GIRL UNMOORED was the setting of the novel. It took place in 1985, and year when I was close in age to Apron. Maybe because I grew up in the 80s, I could relate to many aspects of the story, but I truly believe that Ms. Hummer did a great job of bringing that time period to life. I was reminded of the intolerance for gay couples as well as the ignorance and fear about the AIDS crisis, and in many ways, I recognized how far we've come (and how far we still need to some.)
There were many fabulous things about GIRL UNMOORED, namely the characters and Ms. Hummer's writing, and I can't say that I was very surprised by the quality of the novel. What did manage to surprise me, though, was my reaction to this story. I became heavily involved in Apron's complicated life and I was quite emotional while reading this book. There were many sad scenes that would affect even the hardest of hearts, but Apron's unique way of handling these tragedies was remarkable. Apron was, without a doubt, one of the most memorable characters I've encountered in recent memory; and despite the sadness in her life, I felt uplifted by her words and actions.
GIRL UNMOORED most definitely worked for me; however, I also think tweens and teens will appreciate Apron and her life lessons. In fact, I wasn't not quite sure whether I should classify it as a young adult book or not; and then I realized that it doesn't really matter. A good book is a good book regardless of who the intended audience might be. The only reason that I even mention that it GIRL UNMOORED has cross-over appeal is because most of what I read isn't suitable for my daughter. For the most part, that isn't the case with this novel; and I would love for her to eventually read this book. While the book does address some "adult" issues, they are handled in a respectful way and seen through the eyes of Apron.
GIRL UNMOORED is the second book that I've read from the Fiction Studio, and I have to say that I'm once again very impressed. This might sound awful, but I'm hesitant to try new publishers; however, after reading NIGHT SWIM (my review) and now this book, I think I'm sold. Both books were fresh and original, and I found the writing to be very, very good!
Because I loved this novel so much and it really did cover a lot of important issues, I think GIRL UNMOORED would make a fantastic book club selection... for adults or teens or even mother/daughter groups. There is a reading guide available with some challenging questions, and I think they are just perfect. Some of the topics you might want to explore include parent/child relationships, friendships, death, loss, acceptance, forgiveness, coming "unmoored," and growing up. There are also many symbols in the story which are begging to be discussed!
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by just how wonderful GIRL UNMOORED was. It is a story that touched my heart and left me with a huge smile on my face. Highly recommended.
Thanks to the author for providing a review copy of this novel.