CAMEO ROSE by Robbie Branscum


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Cameo Rose, 14, tries to help her sheriff grandpa solve the murder of Homer (a local good-for-nothing) by bluntly asking everyone--even his widow--whether he or she had reason to shoot him. After someone takes potshots at Grandpa, wounding him, and also at Cameo, she redoubles her efforts till Mrs. Reeves--the spacey, gentle mother of Cameo's sweetheart, Billy Joe--confesses to Cameo that she shot Homer because he sexually harassed her. Wanting to protect Billy Joe, Cameo promises never to tell. The first-person narrative here slips in and out of dialect, telling much but showing little; for instance, Cameo endlessly lists her chores without descriptive detail. Meanwhile, although the setting is rural Arkansas, Cameo is unbelievably naive about sex and violence. Moreover, there seems to be no real pain here--people consider Homer's death fortunate; wearing her first dress easily wins Cameo Billy Joe's affections; and even the murderer goes unpunished. Too hokey to be realistic, not campy enough to be comic, this slim novel is also too shallow to be interesting.

Page count: 96pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
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