Saturday, February 16, 2008
Bad Girls Club, by Judy Gregerson
In their family, Destiny is the one who keeps things together and protects her little sister from their mother. There's no help from Dad as he cannot accept what Destiny tells him (how Mom tried to kill them) and cannot deal with his problems. Destiny's friends try to help as well, but in the end Destiny knows in her heart that she must fix everything. No one loves a bad girl.
I'm not a big fan of the niche of YA lit that puts the characters through endless suffering and less of what I have to think of as a teen fantasy (what if...my parents really were certifiably crazy?) about abusive/neglectful parents. But what usually bothers me in those stories is the gratuitous depiction of suffering with no attempt to escape -- the literature of victimization. This book is very different.
From nearly the first page, we see that Destiny is a strong and able young woman (maybe sometimes even too strong?) who fights for what she believes in. But we also see how she gets sucked down by trying to care for a mentally-ill parent. We also get a good sense of what she is fighting for and why she endures such a terrible situation. We come to believe in what we are seeing and thus to care for the people involved. The result is extremely moving (and disturbing) reading. I can't say that I enjoyed reading this book but it left me with a better understanding of abuse and mental illness.