Saturday, August 10, 2013

Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco

Twelve-year-old Bee has a birthmark on her face that cause people to stare and tease her. She lives with Pauline, a young woman who cares for her after Bee's parents are killed in a car crash. They work at at a traveling circus under an abusive boss. When Pauline is forced to leave the circus by the boss to take care of business in a different city for him, Bee latches onto Bobby, another adult who works there. Bobby teaches Bee how to stick up for herself and run, but then he leaves because of a better job elsewhere. After the boss threatens Bee, she decides to run too. Bee is led by a mysterious woman in an orange floppy hat to a house where Bee learns what it means to have a family. 

The story is realistic with a twist of magic as the two woman are only seen by Bee. Themes of bullying, inclusion versus exclusion of special needs kids, handicaps, and standing up for oneself are some topics that can be discussed. The character of Bee seems too young at times, especially at the start of the novel, but she is socially stunted because of her birthmark, that makes her avoid people in general, so perhaps this was done on purpose by the author. 

Some might not like how Bee handles the bully in the story, although it is authentic in how kids handle situations like Bee's. Bee gets information on the bully and says mean and hurtful things right back because she's tired of being attacked verbally and physically. Bee reflects on her actions later with another adult and wonders if it was the best thing to do in the end. Many of the adults in the beginning of the story come across as one-dimensional and it isn't until the second half that some become more complex and interesting. A nice debut novel.

3 Smileys

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