by Jessie Haas
Review by Kimberly Brosan on Jun 16th 2002
Some people might say that the worst thing about
being a teenager is a nosy interfering mother who reads your diary. Others
might complain about being sent away to grandmothers home for the summer with
only email to connect you and your friends. Still others might say that its
being virtually invisible to your classmates and teachers. Some might be
bothered by the fact that they never met their father because he ran off when
he found out his young girlfriend (your mother) was pregnant with you. Any one
of these things could be potentially disastrous to the fragile teenage ego, but
what if all of these complaints were yours? Thats Mads life in a nutshell.
Mad Parker just finished eighth grade where she
perfected the art of going unnoticed. When her mother reads a recent entry in
Mads English journal: I have set a recordthree consecutive school days
without speaking a single word to anyone. No one meets my eye. I have actually
become invisible, she decides something has to be done to save her daughter.
Whats worse is Mad is going to live with Gam, her
grandmother, the Chair of the state Senate Finance Committee, a woman whose
social life includes Scottish country dancing and dealing with her political
cronies and adversaries. That hardly seems like the place to spend your summer
when your mother thinks you need to be more outgoing.
Through narratives and email messages, the story
unfolds, telling of Mads stay at the farm she lived at with her mother and
grandparents when she was much younger. She brings her horse Cloud to ride,
only to discover that its afraid of the cows which neighbor the farm. Mad is
afraid to push the horse and back home, her best friend Leslie seems to be
making fast friends with a girl they used to consider a real snob.
While attending the Scottish country dance lessons
with Gam, Mad runs into a kindergarten friend, Gordie McIver, grandson of
Senator McIver, one of Gams political friends. If Mad can manage to overcome
her shyness and fear of failure, maybe shell actually have a partner to dance
withand a cute one at that! That shyness and fear of failure seems to creep
from one part of her life to another, as she avoids riding Cloud, tries not to
participate in the dance lessons, and avoids competing in a horse show.
To make matters worse, an email from her mother
mentions shes been spending time with Bob-at-the-gym and although Mad
wonders about her long lost father, shes really not sure how she feels about
her mother getting involved with a man. As Mad overcomes her fears one by one,
she begins to feel more confident in herself and her abilities. She manages to
solve Clouds cow-phobia with the help of Senator McIvers cow Elvirah and some
positive reinforcement. Mad even finds the courage to speak up and out at a
public meeting where they are discussing the problems of the local logging
company clear-cutting the woods. Mad matures over the summer between eighth and
ninth grades, finding her voice and her strengths, even as she finds out shell
never get to meet her estranged father.
2002 Kimberly Brosan
is a high school teacher and librarian. She has worked in high school and
primary school libraries in Pennsylvania and South Carolina for the past 10
years. Kims primary interests are in young adult literature and information
literacy. She says that her favorite part of her job is connecting people with
the books and information they need and teaching them how to locate and
evaluate things for themselves.