Thursday, July 28, 2011

Addie on the Inside by James Howe Review

Addie on the InsideAddie on the Inside by James Howe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads:The Gang of Five is back in this third story from Paintbrush Falls. Addie Carle, the only girl in the group of friends is outspoken, opinionated, and sometimes…just a bit obnoxious.

But as seventh grade progresses, Addie’s not so sure anymore about who she is. It seems her tough exterior is just a little too tough and that doesn’t help her deal with the turmoil she feels on the inside as she faces the pains of growing up.

Told in elegant, accessible verse, ADDIE ON THE INSIDE gives readers a look at a strong, smart, and sensitive girl struggling with the box society wants to put her in. Addie confronts experiences many readers will relate to: the loss of a beloved pet, first heartbreak, teasing…but also, friendship, love, and a growing confidence in one’s self.

You Are Who They Say You Are

They say in the seventh grade

you are who they say you are,

but how can that be true?

How can I be a /Godzilla-girl /lezzie loser /know-it-all/

big-mouth /beanpole /string bean/ freaky tall/

fall-down /spaz attack /brainiac /maniac/

hopeless nerd /*bad word*/brown-nosing /teacher’s pet/

showing off /just to get

attention –


and did I mention:


How can I be all that?

It’s too many things to be.

How can I be all that and

still be true to the real me
while everyone is saying:

My take: I didn't read The Misfits. I'm certain it was wonderful. I do know that James Howe has an uncanny connection to the 7th grade girl. The girl who is uncertain and trying to fit in while doing what she knows is right and feeling misunderstood and grieving the end of her childhood yet yearning to be an adult... Obviously, I might still have some unfinished business from my own adolescence.

There are simply too many gems to address so I will touch on only a few.

  1. I loved the prose. Written in poetry form, the feelings and experiences are concise and artistically painted. I felt Addie's angst and it was well placed.
  2. Addie's connection to her grandmother was simply beautiful. In her social travels, she found she was most at home with the eccentric old lady that truly understood her and cheered her on. I've found that I value my children's relationships with their grandparents more than ever. It grounds them.
  3. Kennedy and Johnson, Addie's cats - seem to have a radar that hones in when a 13 year old girl needs a good cry. That happens to be the moment when one or the other settle upon Addie's lap and calm her nerves with the rhythmic purr and kneading. Okay, I added the kneading. Some things I still understand even though this was true for me when I was 13 and still is now that I'm significantly older than 13.
  4. The complete and utter devastation of feeling like a social pariah. The laughs, the name calling, the shunning.
  5. Addie is a calm girl. She takes the end of her romantic relationship with DuShawn with poise.
  6. Until she gets home and throws herself on her bed and cries and cries.
  7. In order to properly address heartbreak and a 13 year old girl, the author should have dedicated 245 more poems to this angst. However, taking literary license to sum it up in just a few pages saves the reader from becoming bored.
Loved it.

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