Disregard the awkward and misleading title. This exhilarating, generous-hearted tale with a smart, funny, caustically observant protagonist is about so much more than revenge: distinguishing what matters from what doesn’t, taking risks, making mistakes and paying for them.
Faye, 14, and her troubled, abusive mother, a domestic worker, live in Brooklyn. It’s 1984; adrift and at risk, Faye engages in petty crime with two other girls. While robbing an elderly white woman rumored to have once been a movie star, Faye knocks her to the floor. Later, Faye can’t stop thinking about her. Has Faye killed her? Is that why her life’s going badly? Two days later, Faye returns, finding the woman still on the floor but alive, and she chooses to help her. A frail friendship is born. Taking conscious action nurtures Faye’s self-respect, expands her horizons and transforms her relationships. Her actions affect others, causing them to take action that affects her, insights prompting forgiveness and understanding. She realizes she’s been applying the same superficial judgments—good-looking equals better—she objects to when applied to her. (Like Siobhan Vivian in The List (2012), Blythe explores issues of physical appearance in rare depth.) Some mistakes aren’t fixable, Faye learns, but she’ll keep trying to fix them anyway.
Solidly grounded in the gritty realities of daily life, Faye’s discoveries feel earned. A compelling and believable journey. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)