Gem & Dixie

288p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062434593. POP
Gr 8 Up—With a limited support system, Gem is adrift. Her father left years ago, and her mother barely acknowledges her. Gem has always felt intensely protective of her younger sister, Dixie, but now that the girls are in high school, things are different. Pretty, popular Dixie wants little to do with awkward and angsty Gem. When the girls' father returns, however, their already precarious life is upended, sending the teens on a journey that will change them both forever. Writing in a terse, almost brusque manner, Zarr adeptly brings to life a protagonist grappling with anger, loneliness, and rejection. The siblings' relationship is authentically nuanced: Gem's love for her sister is balanced with her resentment of Dixie, who easily garners attention and appears to have a better relationship with their parents. The plot is secondary to the rich portrayal of the characters' internal lives and depiction of a dysfunctional family engaged in more subtle forms of mistreatment. Neither Gem nor Dixie is physically abused, but their parents' neglectful, manipulative behavior and struggles with drug addiction have left their mark on both girls. While some readers may find that the book wraps up loose ends too neatly, others will welcome the optimistic conclusion.
VERDICT A thoughtful work that will resonate with Zarr's many fans and those who appreciate contemplative, character-driven novels.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to 6000+ annual reviews of books, databases, and more

As low as $12/month