Officially classified as “disturbed,” Macy vents her rage, frustrations, and fears in a dictionary-style journal.
According to her high school, 15-year-old Macy (who’s of Puerto Rican descent) is ADHD, compulsive, learning disabled, and emotionally disturbed. Thanks to her caring English teacher, Miss Black, Macy keeps a detailed, secret “dictionary” in which she shares words and definitions relating to her life, from “always/never” to “zombie.” Macy’s family life is unimaginably difficult: she goes hungry outside of school, Daddy’s in prison, Mami sleeps with abusive men (who creepily come on to Macy as well), and baby brother Zane was recently “kidnapped by CPS” to a foster home. Macy is also aggressive, angry, and intimidating. Despite her circumstances, Macy has two unconditional friends: her patient bestie, Alma, who hopes to earn a college scholarship, and George, a loyal, nearly mute trauma survivor who always wears a helmet. Macy’s grittily honest accounts can be hard to process and the stylized language, off-putting (as when she substitutes “f” for “th” in “breaf,” “Birfday,” “baftub”), but her voice is inimitably unique in contemporary teen literature. The heartbreaking events are almost unbearable, but the author depicts them with authenticity and empathy—even when Macy wields a machete to fix a problem.
Ramos’ relevant and thought-provoking debut is a powerful addition to any collection. (Fiction. 14-17)