Bad Apple by Laura Ruby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I believe you can tell a lot about us by the stories we tell about ourselves. Tola's (whose name is from a shortened Italian Cinderella) stories are told through her art. The stories about her are told through the internet and vicious rumors spreading like wildfire through the school. No one believes her, and she's established early on as an unreliable narrator. It doesn't help that the rumors are getting her and her favorite teacher in a lot of trouble. There are so many delicate elements to this story: Tola's family, her friends--past and present, prince charming, her art, her obsession with the Bros. Grimm and her own wicked stepmother, and the teacher in question. Though I must admit that, of course, my favorite character is the blip of the School Media Specialist, Ms. Esme (who fights against censorship and gives Tola subversive materials.) The characters are so strong, the story fluid and for the most part, very well paced. The humor fits well and never seems forced. Oh, and the hero is an aspiring pastry chef, and since my own personal prince charming is currently in pastry school, I can totally appreciate a prince charming who woes through baked goods.
I saw Laura Ruby talk on a panel about Sex in YA Lit at ALA last Monday. I didn't remember her as the author of the ARC I'd just started, but when I put the two things together it totally made sense. She tackles tough topics in such an amazing and inventive way. Well played, Laura Ruby.
According to the Advanced Reading Copy I have this book is due out in October of 2009.
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