So I was in the Juvenile section of my library and this little gem was propped up with it's cover facing out, and I got excited to see Dar Williams as the author! I hadn't thought of her much since college, but a woman who can write an awesome song like The Babysitter's Here, must be able to tell a good story, right? (Although for the record, I like your version best, CCW).
This is the story of the summer between 7th and 8th grade when Amalee decides to make a movie about endangered species. She was inspired by English teacher, and their end of the year project. He says, "You have many stories ahead of you. Tell them with creativity, clarity, and integrity."
Maybe it was just my mood, but I did kind of fall for this book. I found the adult friends of Amalee who are supposed to be these amazing people who have helped raise her to be very annoying. There were 4 and it was hard to keep track, and to really feel like they were all necessary. BUT I found out after I finished that there was an original Amalee, and maybe if I had read that first I would have been attached to these characters. You know how sometimes the second book kind of assumes stuff?
It took me a while, but at about 100 pages in I was taken with Amalee and I think we can all relate to that 12-year-oldness where you feel these big grown-up emotions but you don't really know what to do with them. Or who your real friends are, and you want to be cool and pretty and smart, you know what I mean, right? So that part felt very Dar Williams, and I did buy into it. I liked it.
I thought the writing was good, not amazing. Here are some sentences I liked:
"It was like Mr. Chapelle's assignment; their silence had a language of its own."
"Thanks, Kyle," I said, trying to sound close to sixteen.
"I'd stopped being friends with Ellen and Hallie--or maybe they had stopped being friends with me-- but they still visited my mind from time to time when I was wearing pants that felt too tight or I had an idea that felt stupid."
"From what I could tell, she didn't stand out in her classes for being smart. She wasn't an athlete, she definitely wasn't funny, and she probably still wasn't particularly nice, but I wanted her to feel like she fit in the world, because who was I to say she didn't?"
My favorite part of the book is how the movie she is making gives her the chance to repair old insults, strengthen her friendships, and really figure out some things about herself. At the beginning it felt forced how all the adults jump on board and give her advice and guidance, and even the research at first feels too tidy. But like I mentioned before somehow it all came together for me and worked.
Now I've got to go look up the first book!