Monday, August 2, 2010


Very rarely do I come across a book that I feel connected to but, when I read the book "Wonder When You'll Miss Me" I felt like I was in the main character's shoes. It is so gracefully written that it went from the gang rape and attepted suicide of a 15 yearold girl to an upbeat trapeze artist. The writing was sort of like a trapeze act itself.It's both joy and agony that those words are so good, so dead-on target as Davis describes the pain of lonely adolescent life. If there's any comfort to be had in news of the author's cut-short life, it's that Wonder When You'll Miss Me is the kind of novel that will endure. Even though it's marketed as adult fiction, this is really the kind of story to be read by teens -- males and females alike -- going through that horrible, bumpy transition into adulthood.
Faith Duckle, the overweight girl who's assaulted under the bleachers during her school's Homecoming game, is a kind of Everyteen -- we've all had bits of Faith's loneliness and optimism-against-all-odds at one point in our lives. Davis hones in on Faith's troubled psyche so quickly and accurately that we immediately embrace the girl as an intimate friend. Faith is the kind of character who steps off the page in the first paragraph.

After the attack by the group of boys, described in stark but subtle terms (I stared at buckles and pockets. He pinched my nose so my mouth fell open. Then the terrible sound of zippers…), Faith tries to commit suicide, ends up in a mental hospital, and sheds 48 pounds before her release. She returns to school as a renewed Faith, but she is dogged by the presence of her former self, which manifests itself as Fat Girl.
While constantly stuffing her face with junk food, Fat Girl is a menacing, nagging ghost who dispenses advice like: "There are all kinds of anger. Some kinds are just more useful than others." She dogs Faith's shadow, insisting that the teen might be able to shed pounds, but she'll never lose the person she was. There were days when she was a comfort and days when she was a nightmare, Faith says. Eventually, she becomes more of a nightmare after she convinces Faith to revenge the rape.
The "character" of Fat Girl is a marvelous stroke on Davis' part because, honestly, we can never fully leave our selves back in teenhood. We may move on, but something always clings. Wonder When You'll Miss Me is all about the process of un-clinging the bad debris while coming to terms with the bits that can't be shaken loose.
In Faith's case, this means running away to join the circus (something Davis herself did for several months). She renames herself Annabelle and is taken on by the Fartlesworth Circus as it tours the Eastern seaboard. She begins by picking up trash around the midway, then works her way up to assisting with costumes, grooming the elephants and, eventually, practicing with the trapeze artists. Along the way, we watch as she grows from frightened, easily-manipulated girl to a self-confident, brave fighter willing to somersault through life without a net.



Melissa Carmichael said...

Hey! I'm not saying this just because you're my daughter. That was an extremely well written, informative and in depth book review. I'll be asking you to do more guest blogs! Way to go J! I wouldn't have picked "Wonder When You'll Miss Me" to read but, after your review, I'll have to put it on my TBR list.

paigecarmichael said...

Whoa that is a lot of description!

Marcia Colette said...

Wow! Now THAT was an awesome review. Way to go, Jacquelyn!! Reviews like that will get me running to the author's site, so guess where I'm headed after this.

Well done, hon. :-)