Monday, August 1, 2016

MMGM: Hundred Percent by Karen Romano Young


The last year of elementary school is big for every kid. Christine Gouda faces change at every turn, starting with her own nickname—Tink—which just doesn't fit anymore. Christine navigates a year's cringingly painful trials in normalcy—uncomfortable Halloween costumes, premature sleepover parties, crushed crushes, and changing friendships. Throughout all this, Tink learns, what you call yourself, and how you do it, has a lot to do with who you are.


I have rather mixed feelings about this book.  While the book does contain issues and problems common to 6th grade, there were several things I had a problem with as well.  Tink is an interesting character who feels like a real 11-almost 12-year-old who worries about things like friendship, boys, and school.  Tink's best friend, Jackie is being included within the 'circle' of so-called popular kids, and while Jackie brings Tink along most of the time, Tink isn't sure where she fits.  As Tink starts to figure out her own interests and likes, she starts to realize that the popular 'circle' isn't necessarily where she wants to be.  But at the same time she's hurt being left out and by Jackie's confusing behavior.  As she struggles with jealousy, she also struggles to figure out what boy she likes the best.  All of this is very reminiscent of this age group. I did appreciate the relationships between Tink and her family, they felt very genuine.  And it was refreshing to see both parents involved and worried about their daughter and her struggles.

However, some of the frank and often inappropriate discussions between the characters bothered me a bit as did the frequent use of swear words and the word 'slut'.  The amount of sexual innuendo including a boy telling Tink straight out that she would 'look good naked' shocked me a bit at their frankness.  As do discussions between Tink and Jackie about Jackie's mother's boyfriend and Jackie's crush on her mother's boyfriend's son.  In addition, Tink and some of her classmates put together a sing-a-long around a man and women in a bar that I'm pretty sure no teacher would approve. So while talk between friends about bras and sex doesn't seem extremely out of place, the focus on it for this age group made me really uncomfortable. This isn't a book I would feel comfortable sharing with my students.  I also found the wording a bit awkword and confusing in places.  I had to go back and re-read some of the dialogue to figure out what was being discussed.

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