Monday, December 12, 2011

High School Pick: Fix Me

Fix Me
by Rune Michaels
160 pages (page count from publisher's website; my copy had 149 pages)

Complex, chilling, cutting, and caustic, Fix Me is Rune Michaels' latest ya novel. This time, the characters are disturbing as well as disturbed. Leia's mother and step-father die in a car accident and she and her abusive brother live in their home with their aunt as the guardian. There is no love lost in their twisted and tormented relationship. Aunt Phoebe is cruel and mouthy, Brian is controlling and sadistic, and both Brian and Leia turn to cutting for pain relief.

When her world starts crashing in, Leia turns to the only place she can feel safe, the zoo. It is a sanctuary for abused animals after all, and it is among the animals she feels safest. She stays at the zoo all day, hiding out at lock-up time and finding an old, empty tiger cage to sleep in. Never mind the fact that Brian and Aunt Phoebe are probably looking for her; Leia knows they aren't really too worried.

The zoo owner's son Kyle offers Leia a place to shower and sleep and gets her fruit and food to eat. He tells her she can stay there at night if she'll help him out feeding the animals and cleaning their cages. Leia loves the elephants and doesn't mind the hard work. Then Tina arrives. She is a traumatized chimp who suffered from human abusers. She can't be put with other chimps and she can't be left in the wild. Leia decides that Tina will be her project--they have much in common.

Leia stops cutting for awhile but then is triggered by a stranger's presence. In a disturbing flashback, the reader learns the true depth of cruelty and shocking abuse Leia has had to live with. In the end, Leia faces her demons and ruinous past and begins the painful process of healing. The reader is left with a feeling of timorous hope.

This is not a "feel good" read; however, it is compelling and well-written and a solid page turner. Teens who like "problem" novels with grit will like Fix Me.

Recommended for high school collections grades 9-up. Mature situations, child abuse, sexual abuse, violence, cutting. Not for middle school.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

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