THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLS by Frances O’Roark Dowell

THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLS

From the "Secret Language of Girls" series, volume 1
Age Range: 9 - 12

KIRKUS REVIEW

Kate and Marylin, best friends from nursery school, find themselves increasingly out-of-sync as the rigors of sixth grade test their friendship. Kate loves basketball and doesn’t care (much) what other people think, but Marylin finds that she is turning into “the sort of person who care[s] about toes.” The penetrating text follows both girls through the course of the year, the third-person perspective moving back and forth between the two as Marylin and Kate drift apart. The ructions to friendships brought on by middle school are hardly new to children’s literature. What makes this offering stand out, however, is Dowell’s ability to maintain the reader’s sympathy with both girls: instead of painting the social-climbing Marylin as a villain, the nuanced characterization shows that she is equally a victim of forces beyond her understanding. Less successful is the use of some secondary characters: a nonconformist girl seems to be introduced solely to provide a model for Kate, and Marylin’s little brother threatens to steal the show at points. Still, it’s a solid treatment of a subject in which there will always be an interest. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-689-84421-2
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2004




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