LARGER-THAN-LIFE LARA by Dandi Daley Mackall

LARGER-THAN-LIFE LARA

Age Range: 9 - 11
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A likable fourth-grader writes a book (this one) about a cryptic and crucified fellow classmate. Narrator Laney has a painful home life, with mean brothers and a father who drinks and hits. Her book “isn’t about me,” she insists, but Mackall delicately includes Laney’s own aches and triumphs. The ostensible protagonist is Lara, a fat girl. The class harasses Lara mercilessly—even Laney uses words like “waddled,” though just in her writing, which is less hateful to Lara but still damaging to readers. Lara’s smile never wavers. A class play exhilarates Laney, who’s cast in it; Lara, relegated to stage crew despite the undisputed best audition, cheerfully works on the crew. A final cruel trick on Lara forces her out of the school forever. As she leaves, the class holds up handwritten posters of apology. Lara’s final sacrifice, unwavering friendliness and unexplained knowledge of peers’ secrets make her a saint figure. Laney’s portrayal is nicely subtle, but Lara’s unflinching martyrdom is awkward for realism (and is another harmful example of fat character as victim). (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-525-47726-8
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2006




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