Do you remember junior high? That awkward time where your elementary BFF’s start to drift away because you’re in a new school with new people and all of a sudden you have options. Do you want to be in band, track, orchestra, choir? What electives are you going to take? Are you going to be in honors classes or regular? And the most important question – are you going to hang out in the popular crowd, or some other group? That is, if you have the choice.
I read a wonderful book this weekend by my friend and critique partner, Cynthia T. Toney. Bird Face is her debut novel, and because she wrote it before I joined the Scriblerian critique group, I had heard about it but had never gotten to read it. It just released on February 11th, and, yes, it was definitely worth the wait. :)
My junior high was grades 7-9, so basically a bunch of 12-15 year olds trying to figure out who they were and how to relate to the world. I was shy, in the gifted/talented program, and in band. I also had glasses and braces until I got contacts in 8th grade. I had very poor fashion sense and was incredibly skinny. Not because I had an eating disorder, but because I just didn’t like food (I no longer have that problem, sadly). I still cringe at my old school photos. So I can totally relate to Wendy Robichaud, the main character in Bird Face, as being shy, OK looking at best, and in the shadow of a gorgeous best friend. My BFF in junior high/high school was voted Most Beautiful our senior year. :) I didn’t begrudge her that, she was and still is beautiful.
Bird Face is an authentic look at the important transitional years of junior high. Wendy figures out who she is going to be over the course of the book. Will she be defined by her friends, parents, or a name-calling boy? She struggles with divorced parents, anonymous notes of encouragement, a misunderstood bully, and girls with eating disorders. Not only is this book incredibly well written, the message is strong and from a non-preachy Christian worldview. As a parent, it reminds me of what it was like to be in junior high which will help me empathize with my girls as they get to that age. And I want to read it and discuss it with both my daughters as well. This is realistic Christian fiction at its best!
And now, dear friends, what were you like in junior high?