Friday, September 28, 2012

The Great Gilly Hopkins

The Great Gilly HopkinsThe Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have you ever made a decision that had consequences you never could have imagined?

Eleven-year-old Gilly is an angry child. She has bounced from foster home to foster home since she was three. Unloved, she does everything possible to make herself unloveable, proud of her power and status as the county’s most unmanageable brat. This latest placement is the worst yet. Forced to live with the gigantic Maime Trotter and the bizarrely timid little William Ernest in the filthiest house she’s ever seen, she hatches a plan to get her mother to come rescue her. You know what they say about plans, though: they oft go awry, and this one sends shockwaves through the lives of the family she never thought she’d have.

The theme of this book is timeless, although some of the details are now a bit dated, such as Gilly's shock at having a black neighbor and a black teacher. No, the book isn't racist, despite Gilly's early prejudices, and modern children will probably be confused by her reactions, since the world is quite different today than it was thirty-plus years ago.

Katherine Paterson doesn't pull any punches or sugar-coat her stories. They are real--bad things happen, and actions have logical repercussions. I love that about her books!

For readers' advisors: character doorway. Some swearing, as you might expect from a wounded, out-of-control preteen.

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