This taut thriller showcases the award-winning Canadian author’s gift for creating memorable teen characters who confront tough issues alone—in this case, teen bullying, portrayed in gritty, claustrophobic detail by its victim.
High-school junior Shirley Rutz knows she’s ugly—she sees it in the mirror, her mother and pretty sister reinforce the message and her classmates hammer it home. Their weapons of choice run from cruel jeers and physical intimidation to sophisticated cyberbullying. To endure the pain, Shir takes refuge in her hideaway above the river, anesthetizing herself with alcohol. To pay the exorbitant price her adult suppliers charge for beer, she makes deliveries for a grocer whose appreciation for her work is the only praise she hears. The crutches Shir relies on are fragile though, and they soon begin to fail her. The relentless abuse at school escalates, a strange boy invades her sanctuary and she makes the horrifying discovery that she’s been delivering more than groceries. If Shir’s crutches are what’s kept her going, giving them up is the price of survival. Goobie’s third-person voice relentlessly puts readers directly in Shir’s head, pulling no punches in creating a memorable, believable character.Working-class, alcoholic Shir is no swan in ugly-duckling disguise, but despite the rotten hand life’s dealt her, she’s got heart and courage and a stubborn refusal to give up that will keep readers rooting for her. (Fiction. 14 & up)