by Erin Entrada Kelly
“I am imaginative and kind” taken from Orchid’s I Am Poem (pg 319)
I loved this book. When I finished reading it I knew that it should be in every library and every classroom. It would make the most amazing read aloud because it is abundant in timely topics and VERY approcable subject matter. It will encourage discussion amongst any age group.
I have read another of Entrada Kelly’s books Hello Universe which I absolutely loved so I knew I was probably going to love this one as well. Entrada Kelly has an uncanny ability to convincingly inhabit the world of adolescence thus creating authenticity to her story telling.
This is a novel about a group of seventh graders who, as most seventh graders, are trying to figure out who they are, which can be both difficult and easy when you live in the VERY small town of Fawn Creek (or referred to as “Yawn Creek” by most) and if you attempt to break away from that stereotype, you run the risk of being bullied and teased by those who are threatened by your uniqueness. The Fawn Creek seventh graders have recognized “who” others say they are: Lehigh takes a bit longer to learn so he is deemed “Slowly”, Dorothy doesn’t want to rock anyone’s boat let alone her own and wont even acknowledge anyone’s tears for fear it may lead to an uncomfortable conversation, Greyson prefers fashion design over duck hunting but can’t let his friends and family know for fear of judgment, and Janie, well Janie has been the minion of Renni, the queen bee herself, and even though Renni has moved away, Janie is still under her reign. But one day, a new girl comes to town. Orchid Mason is an enigma. It’s not just her name that is exotic, but she comes to little ol Fawn Creek from New York via Paris and, unlike the rest of them, she is extremely insightful,confident and kind. Orchid notices when you are hurting and asks if she can help, has a way of making you feel important and special no matter who you are, and she recognizes your strengths and helps you see them too. Orchid is as kind as she is beautiful.
This is a wonderful novel about friendship, courage, and being able to stand for what is right and just in front of those who ridicule you. It’s about being brave enough to choose kindness over cruelty, even if it means breaking from those who you once thought were your friends.
I would use this novel as a class novel study, or at least a choice for student book clubs.