This is the first half of a doubleshot. Check back this afternoon for ?wazithink's thoughts on the same book.
Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: YA/Mystery/Coming of Age
Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words
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Brenda Vicars worked for years as a teacher and later a principal in Texas public schools. She also taught college English to prison inmates for three years. These experiences inspired Polarity in Motion, her first novel.
“Fifteen-year-old Polarity Weeks just wants to live a normal life, but with a mother diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, that’s rarely easy. Her life gets exponentially more disastrous when her sixth-period history classmates start ogling a nude picture of her on the Internet. Polarity would never have struck such a shameless pose, but the photo is definitely of her, and she’s at a complete loss to explain its existence.
Child Protective Services yanks her from her home, suspecting her parents. The kids at school mock her, assuming she took it herself. And Ethan, the boy she was really starting to like, backpedals and joins the taunting chorus. Surrounded by disbelief and derision on all sides, Polarity desperately seeks the truth among her friends. Only then does she learn that everyone has dark secrets, and no one’s life is anywhere near normal.”
This is a well conceived and well written story that works on multiple levels. On the surface it has a mystery (where did that photo come from and who posted it on the internet) and a budding romance. It’s also a coming-of-age story, as Polarity learns more about how the world works and takes giant strides towards adulthood.
Polarity’s story gave me flashbacks to my junior high days with a tale that is tension filled, with well developed, realistic characters, and a protagonist that everyone should love. Taken at face value, it’s a great story. However, lurking beneath the surface is so much more. There is a lesson on the difficulties of dealing with family members with mental health issues and encouragement to be more accepting of those who are different. There are also questions raised about kids who get caught up in the system, especially if they don’t have adults like Polarity’s parents to act as strong advocates for them. Questions that, as you consider all sides of the issue, don’t have easy answers.
I’d recommend this book not only for the obvious core audience of young adults, but for old adults like me as well. An excellent story that should resonate with all ages.
No significant issues.
Rating: ***** Five Stars