MEG'S FAMILY HAS moved a lot because of her father's drinking. Meg arrives in her town longing to find a real friend, someone she can talk to and write stories with. When she and Grace join forces to write a book, she can't believe that she has finally found someone who likes her for who she is, who trusts her and confides in her. But she can't tell Grace about her father. Even though she hates to lie, Meg can't resist telling tall tales about her family and her life. Friendship turns out to be the key, not only to telling the truth, but to a better life for her family.
Abusive, alcoholic fathers can be hard to hide from new friends, especially when they promise to stop drinking-and don't. Rather than spill family secrets, many family members sweep the problem under the rug, and invent excuses to explain odd behavior (or injuries). Twelve-year-old Meg has taken stretching the truth one step further. When pressed about her family by classmates at her new school, she makes up hyperbolic stories to take away the pressure. "My family is from Australia... we lived in tents for the past three years"; "I caught malaria in India last summer. I was so sick I almost died." When she meets Grace, the two become fast friends and Meg worries that her lies-and the truth about her father-will get in the way of their friendship. But as her father's abuse continues and he decides to move the family once again, Meg, her mother and her siblings must decide if they can leave him. Day's debut novel tackles deep issues-abuse in the home, excessive lying to both peers and adults, and a lack of responsible role models-though the narrative can be choppy in sections (chapter length varies widely). Still, Day's account captures the intense tangle of emotions felt by family members who have been convinced that they are too powerless to stop abuse on their own. Ages 9-12. (May)
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Wendy Lamb Books
November 10, 2008
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