Jasmine and Maddie

192p. Boyds Mills. Apr. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781620917398.
Gr 6–10—Two eighth grade girls—so different and yet so alike. Jasmine has moved from New Hampshire to Clover, Connecticut, looking for a fresh start. Her father's death from cancer filled her with a rage that culminated in a physical assault on a girl where she used to live. Now her mother is working two jobs and they live in a trailer park, which Jasmine finds humiliating. Her anger smolders. In contrast, Maddie appears to have it all—caring parents, three siblings, a beautiful home. Yet Maddie has her own issues—she harbors a one-sided sibling rivalry exacerbated by an identity crisis, and she is further humiliated when she doesn't make the soccer team and her best friend does. Maddie and Jasmine's Emily Dickinson project brings the two girls together. Over the course of the story, both girls act out, seek forgiveness, and then turn around to repeat the same mistakes. Poetry winds throughout—some classics and some original in the voices of Clover's eighth grade students. When Maddie and Jasmine reach an impasse with nowhere to hide, they are forced to take a unflinching look at themselves. This is a sometimes painful story tempered with honesty, growth, and a true effort to move on in an imperfect world.—Kathy Cherniavsky, Ridgefield Library, CT
Jasmine and Maddie are both keeping secrets about their circumstances: Jasmine lives in a trailer park with her mother, and Maddie is wealthy but desperately lonely. When Jasmine betrays Maddie's trust, both girls are forced to face reality. Allowing each girl to narrate in turn, Pakkala weaves a powerful story about fulfilling and defying expectations.

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