336p. ebook available. Orca. 2013. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781459805309. LC 2013936062.
Gr 10 Up—Continuing in the tradition of Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones, Prendergast's novel in verse centers on a young woman coming to terms with her troubled past. Ella, an aspiring artist, has moved with her family to a new city and school. The reasons for the move unfold slowly, and her backstory is one of the many mysteries layered within the plot. Ella uses art to express herself and creates nine canvases for the school art show based on the word "Audacious," where each letter represents another word, acrostic-style. The art pieces feature women who fight back despite their circumstances, including images devoted to labels such as "Disabled," "Indigenous," and "Asthmatic." Controversy ensues when Ella incorporates a canvas for the letter "C" for the word "Cunt," along with a photo of her genitalia. Child pornography charges are filed, and her family is forced to finally speak openly about the secrets that threaten to tear each of them apart. A traumatic event that occurred previously finally comes to light and gives teens insight to the motivation for many of Ella's actions. The novel contains multiple, adeptly intertwined plotlines that touch upon an extensive range of issues, including Islamic religious views, the existence of God, the Israeli-Palestine conflict, eating disorders, mother-daughter relationships, learning disabilities, and censorship. A wonderfully fast-paced novel that mature teens are sure to embrace.—Lindsay Cesari, Baldwinsville School District, NY
Bullied, eccentric Raphaelle moves to a new town and is reborn as Ella--and she promises "Ella will be different." But when chosen to contribute to the student art show, even Ella can't resist the urge to push the boundaries. In this dynamic novel in verse that is as daring as its heroine, Prendergrast delivers a coming-of-age story with some thoughtful exploration of difference.

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