Saturday, August 2, 2008

Book Review: Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek


Ellie is 11 years old, it’s nearly Easter and she’s excited about finally being able to take home one of the chicks from her father’s store. A sunny beginning, to be sure, but there are dark clouds on the horizon. Her mother’s behavior is increasingly erratic, and when she falls down the stairs and is admitted to the hospital, her father brings home the teenage “tomato girl” to help take care of things and things go from bad to worse.

Since the book is told from innocent Ellie’s point of view, a lot of the clues that adults pick up as to what is actually going on (her father’s affair, the police taking advantage of her mother, etc.) sail over her head. As the narrative progresses, it’s heartbreaking to have to see how events gradually cause Ellie to lose her innocence and force to her to grow up way too fast. Despite Ellie’s age, this is not a book for middle or YA readers (though more mature teens who seek out intense, challenging literature could handle it).

This novel is not in any way high concept (my favorite type of book) and most definitely does not fall in the thriller genre, but it sucked me in so completely that I lost track of time and read compulsively until I turned the last page. It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly what makes it so great - certainly the sure, authentic voice and the sympathetically rendered characters – but there is some intangible magic to it which every writer hopes to achieve and every reader longs to discover. Thanks to the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program for allowing me to discover this one.

Look for it on August 26th.

9 comments:

Steph said...

Excellent review - this sounds like my type of book. It's vaguely remiscient of a Catherine Ryan Hyde novel. Or maybe I'm just sleep deprived. Hmm...

Steph

ChickLit Teens said...

Sounds like a great book. I'll have to remember the title for the next time I go to the book store.

Dar said...

Great review. This novel does sound intriguing. I'm going to put it on my list of books to read. Thanks.

Angela said...

Lenore;
Thanks for posting this review. I'm going to look for this book!

thekoolaidmom said...

...authentic voice and the sympathetically rendered characters...

yes! And not too dramatic, with over the top troubles, either. When We Were Romans and The Tomato Girl sound very compatible. I'm going to have to put this on my wishlist. :-D

Shooting Stars Mag said...

ohhh this does sound like a good read and my kind of book as well, since i'm very intrigued by intense novels or books that focus on the horrible things in life. it's awful, but it's realistic as well.

-Lauren

Liviania said...

I like the way this book sounds - I enjo a naive character's POV, where you have to pick up the hints about what's really going on.

Jill said...

Great review...intangible magic...perfect way to phrase it.

Anna said...

Great review! I love it when a book pulls you in right away. I hope I get a chance to read this one soon!

--Anna
http://diaryofaneccentric.blogspot.com