The Disturbed Girl's Dictionary

344p. Lerner/Carolrhoda. Feb. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781512439762.
Gr 9 Up—Fifteen-year-old Puerto Rican Macy Cashmere keeps a personal journal in dictionary format which gives readers insight into the mind of a teen disappointed by her urban environment and most of the adults in her life. Labeled "disturbed" by the school system, she lives in constant hunger, sleeping in the bathtub to avoid uncomfortable events in the rest of her apartment. She clings to her relationship with her "bestie," a beautiful, intelligent young Latina going through her own family traumas, together with their friend George, who, despite his own challenges, serves as a stabilizing force. Teacher Mrs. Black is the singular adult who seems to provide deep acceptance, caring, and timely words of encouragement. Intra-textual references between dictionary entries provide clues about past and future events until they meet in real time at the plot's climax. This complex story of love and loss can lead to insightful discussions about the problematic label of "disturbed." The book concludes with some hope but not a complete resolution which makes it realistic in a lingering way. While this text includes strong language, the use of inventive spelling to defy school grammar, and content suitable for older readers, it may provide students with similar life experiences from an identifiable protagonist and serve as a catalyst for critical educator-facilitated discussions.
VERDICT Purchase where Isabel Quintero's Gabi, a Girl in Pieces is popular.

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