BOOK REVIEW: Trauma Queen by Barbara Dee

Gema is a 20-year old from Miami, FL. Reads like a maniac. Writes for sanity. It’s a fine line and she loves erasing it.

Trauma Queen by Barbara Dee

$6.99, Simon and Schuster, Ages 9-13, April 19, 2011

“And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about middle school by now, it’s this: Attention is bad.”

Don’t say your parents are embarrassing until you read about Marigold’s in Barbara Dee’s new middle grade novel, Trauma Queen. As the title suggests, the protagonist, Marigold, is the Trauma Queen. This poor girl knows humiliation like a gun victim knows a bullet. “Mom is what is known in the biz as a performance artist. That’s another way of saying she does embarrassing things in public.” And embarrassing they are – wrapping herself in saran wrap, inviting people in the dead of night to record her sleeping, wearing a scuba diving outfit to Marigold’s second grade class and pouring olive oil all over her body.

And yet, believe it or not, Marigold’s mom has done worse than embarrass her with a consistency that borderlines supernatural. Her antics and bluntness has cost Marigold her best friend. Now Marigold is miles away from her and is starting over in a new town and in a new school. Some of her new classmates are in a war against each other and  she lands in the heat of a battle. She has to pick a side without really knowing what happened or the people involved. All she wants now is a friend to help her through it all.

Marigold is a hilarious protagonist, especially when she’s frustrated. Her story rings true for anyone currently in middle school and brings forth body-cringing memories for those of us who have tried to forget we were ever there. Trauma Queen is a story about what it is to need a friend, to need someone to complain about your mom to over a manicure. It’s a story about acting on the impulse of rage and the consequences it can have on an entire family. “Words hurt…words are powerful, powerful weapons, Marigold.” That isn’t a lesson that Marigold just learns, but lives. Trauma Queen is about the good, bad and the ugly of being different and the center of attention. And, the best part, Trauma Queen is about love and forgiveness, something that even adults need to be reminded of. I highly recommend this heart-warming read for middle graders and their parents. I promise you’ll cringe, smile and “aww,” sometimes at the same time so beware of funny faces in public. Buy now.

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