Originally published on June 12, 2012.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Last year, I read
Baskin's Anything But Typical for one of my librarian grad classes and
really enjoyed it, so I thought I'd try another one by her. I grabbed it off
the library shelf a couple weeks ago on impulse, thinking that I might not even
read it because it sounded so light and fluffy (but it was the only other book
by Baskin at our library).
While What Every Girl (except me)
Knows was a quick read, it was not all that light and definitely not
fluffy. It kind of reminded me of a Are You There, God? It's Me,
Margaret for this generation. That book was cutting-edge in its time
(funny to think of now) because it discussed real coming-of-age issues so
frankly, something that had not been done up until that time. What Every
Girl Knows is similar in that it discusses real issues that young teens
often don't know how to bring up in their real lives.
Gabby Weiss, age
12, is a girl without a mother. Her mother died when she was 3, and Gabby has
no memory of her at all. For her entire life, though, Gabby has felt that she
doesn't know how to be "girlish" or to interact with other girls, because she
has had no female role model. As she enters her teen years, she's unsure of how
to act or who to turn to for advice. This could just be a sweet coming-of-age
story, where Gabby makes a true best friend, acquires a stepmother that she
truly loves, and begins to communicate with her older brother. But these events
are overshadowed by sadder, more serious things: the best friend admitting that
she knew when her mother had an affair, yet didn't tell her father; the
potential stepmother leaving Gabby's father because she is afraid of the
family's issues; and Gabby and her brother coming to terms with the previously
unspoken fact that their mother committed suicide after their father walked out
Mostly, this book just made me sad: sad for all the kids in the
world that have such rough circumstances (such as a classmate who is revealed to
be mentally unstable after being repeatedly locked in the closet by her mother
as a punishment). It made me want to cuddle my own kids close and protect them
from the big, bad world. In fact, I think I'm going to go do that right now.