Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Middle School Pick: The Lovely Shoes (Guest Reviewer)

The Lovely Shoes
by Susan Shreve
Arthur Levine Books
256 pages

(Blogger's note- This review was written by my friend Leslie Rush, an avid reader of ya fiction and new to the review scene. This is her second guest review)>

Francine Hall is facing a quadruple threat: she is 14, the age when conformity is crucial. She lives in a small town in Ohio, where everyone knows everything about everyone. It is 1956, smack in the middle of the Conformity Decade. And Franny was born with a withered, defective foot.

Even though she is pretty and smart and fun to be with, Franny is deeply insecure about where and how she will fit in as she begins her freshman year in high school. She buys her friends presents, and pretends words like “gimp” and “cripple” don’t really bother her.

She hates her ugly orthopedic shoes, and tries on her mother’s clothes and shoes, imagining a future where she is beautiful--a future she is positive will never happen. She writes stories and letters that express her inner world with sly wit and vulnerability, in a way that only a 14-year-old can.

A cringing embarrassment at a school dance reveals to Franny exactly how much she will never fit in, and so she decides to stay in her bedroom, never to emerge ever again.

Franny’s loving mother is also different. She is from Denmark, and is incredibly beautiful. She does everything a mother can do to help Franny fit in, and after the disastrous dance, presents Franny with an amazing hope, a dazzling set of new possibilities, in the form of Salvatore Ferragamo. Yes, THAT Salvatore Ferragamo!

Franny realizes she must emerge from her self-imposed prison to find out who she is, find her own voice and create her own expectations. Even if it means facing her fears --- and the fears of those who love her--- she must find her own path to true beauty and acceptance.

Loosely based on a true story, this is a sweet journey of self-determination .

Although the jacket says grades 4 and up, mature themes and a few sexual references make this inappropriate for elementary school. Recommended for ages 12 and up, grades 6-10. One sweet kiss !

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I gave the arc to my friend and fellow reviewer and ya novels reader Leslie Rush. Lesly has been a high school teacher and avid reader for many years and shares my love of reading and ya novels. This is her second book review. I/We received no monetary compensation for this review.

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