September 8, 2011

Book Review: Map of Me

Title: Map of Me
Author: Tami Lewis Brown
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
Copy Obtain: For Review

The note Momma left on the fridge says only: “I HAVE TO GO.” But go where? Twelve-year-old Margie is convinced that Momma’s gone to the Rooster Romp at the International Poultry Hall of Fame, in search of additions to her precious flock of chicken memorabilia. And it’s up to Margie to bring her home. So she commandeers her daddy’s Faithful Ford, kidnaps her nine-year-old sister, Peep, and takes to the open road.
As she navigates the back roads of Kentucky with smarty-pants Peep criticizing her every move, Margie also travels along the highways and byways of her heart, mapping a course to help understand Momma—and herself.

My Review 

I love middle grade books because they explore the emotions of kids that are really still trying to figure it all out - who they are, who their family is, what they believe, who to trust, and the whole reality of growing up.  This book is right in there with all that.
Margie is so in the middle of being 12.  She thinks everyone thinks the worse of her, she thinks everyone loves her little sister more and she believes her daddy wants nothing to do with her.  I so felt for her.  What doesn't help is that her little 9 year sister is extremely smart and has been put into Margie's grade.  I cringed at the though of that.  To have your baby sister basically out-shine you in school.  How hard would that be??? And that only made worse because Margie is very different personality-wise from her sister.  Her sister is careful and neat and organized.  Margie lives more on impulse.  She, sadly, thinks that makes her bad.  Because I could hear her thoughts I knew this was happening, but her parents didn't.  They are so wrapped up in their own lives that they can't see how their daughter is feeling.  This becomes so clear when her mother just leaves.  And that sends Margie into a panic.

It's when her mother leaves that the story takes off.  As wrong as it is I LOVE Margie's reaction.  She basically steals her father's car and takes off after her dragging her sister along!  Wrong choice, but at the same time I cheered her on!  I was like yes maybe now someone will see what's going on with Margie and actually the whole family.  Now realize that Margie has never driven, the car is low on gas and she has no real clue how to get where she's going.  But that did not stop her.  You gotta love a girl with that kind of courage.  And how she figures it all out shows that she way smarter than she has ever given herself credit for!  As the trip goes along, Margie's self confident builds until it finally comes out at the end of the book and forces her father to see her.  What growth to see. Don't get me wrong - I'm not advocating kids steal cars and go on a road trip!  The book clearly shows how wrong this could go, and that it is not a good choice. But I loved how it was used to give Margie the voice she needed.

The book had a few weaknesses.  I would've liked it to be a bit longer to see the change even more or to give even more background to what is happening within this family.  You get a general sense of things not being right but the background isn't completely clear.  Although for a middle school student reading it, they would be more interested in the immediate story and how it all ends not the background.

I could easily see this book used in the classroom.  It would be great for those kids that feel over shadowed by everyone around them - and how their "map" of who they are is just as strong and important as everyone else's.

For the Guys?  I think so.  Even though the main character is a girl I think boys could relate to what she is going through.

Final Thought:  It's always great to see a kid this age find more of who they are
Best stick-with-you image: Her first attempt at driving
Best for readers who: Have ever needed people to just listen
Best for ages: 9-12

Make sure to read my interview with the author and enter the giveaway for the book.  Go HERE to do both!

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