Monday, May 13, 2013

Tracing Stars by Erin E. Moulton

Writing reviews is tricky. You don't want to be too nitpicky; you want to be respectful; and you want to give an honest take on a book. Personal taste can taint an analysis and (unbeknownst to you) can skew your review. That's why I really admire some of the Goodreads reviewers who walk the fine line of giving an honest review that helps me in my book purchases, as well as give witty, insightful, and very helpful advice. So thank you! I need to log more hours in before I will start feeling comfortable with this reviewing process and not wracked by self-doubts. This journey of better understanding literature is an odd walk and I know some of my reviews are kind of weird - in a good way - but weird all the same. Indie Lee Chickory is weird too. She tries to hide it and conform but she likes to make fish faces, calm her nerves by reciting different types of fish, and wear tomboy clothes. She wants to be liked by her sister and is frustrated by her awkwardness and always "messing" things up. I can relate to her inferiority complex and clumsiness whether it is writing reviews or burning dinner up on the stove. Indie's internal journey of accepting her uniqueness is what touched me the most in this realistic story and I think it will touch others as well.

Indie is a bit of an oddball at school who enjoys making fish faces and whom the other kids tease calling her a "fish freak." When her pet lobster sneaks into her backpack she tries to find it some water over recess. Problems rise when the lobster decides to peak out from under her shirt like an alien from outer space. She loses the lobster in the ensuing melee and then sets out to get it back with the help of a newfound friend, Owen, who is even odder than her. He sounds like a walking encyclopedia who makes lists in a notebook trying to categorize everything. His personal life is out of control and this is what calms him.

Indie's sister, Bebe, is embarrassed by her younger sister and when Indie gets a job at the community theater where her sister has a part in the play production, Bebe is mortified with how Indie dresses. Every night Bebe lays out girly girl clothes for Indie to wear when she comes to the theater because Bebe is trying to impress another girl, Kelsey. Kelsey is a bully who hates Owen's different personality. Indie desperately wants to please her sister and stop doing klutzy, embarrassing things and she wants to be Owen's friend. When a prank goes too far, Indie has to decide between being herself and feeling good about her choices or following the crowd.

The plot has some unbelievable spots, but they add tension, humor and drama so I didn't care. I don't think the kids would steal a neighbor's golf cart (why not ask) and then forget to return it, especially Owen. I don't think Sloth would have freed Indie from her bedroom or a lobster would have crawled in her backpack, but it's fun. Indie sneaks out of the house at times when her family is awake and I didn't think this would happen either, because in previous chapters her mom comes in to say, "good night" and she and her sister are close in age. This is one of those instances where I might be being too nitpicky.

The characters are interesting. Bebe is a perfectionist and finds it hard to be around her bumbling sister. I thought the flashback was a bit awkward. It is supposed to show how much Bebe wants to be an actress and why she is intolerant of her sister, but I think her perfectionist personality comes through with her extra play rehearsals in the early morning. The flashback isn't necessary for the plot or character development. I did like all the fish imagery and tying it in with the constellations. The other great scene is Sloth and Indie dancing around the shop room like crazy girls. I laughed hard and thought about how we'd do that in college singing into our curling irons like they were microphones and sticking popcorn up our noses with the floors vibrating from the cranked-up music. Good times.

I have never had a pet lobster. I didn't even know you could have them as pets, much less put them down your shirt; however, I did act out books. Probably the dumbest thing I did was carve a peep hole in their beautiful wood door with her. She got a new chisel set for her birthday. We ate clam chowder, saltines, and Velveeta cheese for lunch taking turns looking through the hole to make sure her brother wasn't spying on us. Little did we know that we should have been looking for an angry parent, not a snoopy brother. I had another good friend who saved all the spleens from the animals she dissected in biology class. She's now a neurosurgeon. I really thought she'd be a mortician. Guess we all have our quirks.

Reading Level 5.4
3 Smileys

No comments:

Post a Comment