JUST 42 MILES. That's how far it is from the downtown apartment where JoEllen Lives with her mom to the old family farm where she spends weekends with her dad. But to her, these two homes are worlds apart. In the city, she's Ellen, who hangs out with her girlfiends, plays the sax, and loves old movies. In the country, she's Joey, who rides horses with her cousin, Hayden, goes fishing, and listens to bluegrass. Now with her thirteenth birthday approaching she needs to decide: Where do her loyalties lie? Who is the real JoEllen?
Linked free-verse poems combine with scrapbook-style illustrations to create the vivid portrait of a girl who is trying to find herself amid the pieces of her life.
This slim volume tells the tale of a girl on the verge of becoming a teen and declaring who she is. At times immature, at times self-aware, and at time prescient, JoEllen's voice accurately captures a girl on the brink of adolescence. JoEllen's friends and her development of her own identity are becoming more important to the girl than her parents' expectations. Although her parents are divorced, she has always enjoyed her time spent with each of them. While she is starting to show the telltale signs of annoyance with her parents, it's clear that her strong relationship with both will help her through her teen years. It is fitting that by the end she starts to integrate the people from her two separate homes, thereby creating a new, blended life for herself. This is an easy, approachable book of free verse poems, and middle grade readers will likely feel comfortable with both the format and the sentiments presented. The scrapbook-style illustrations are familiar, comforting, and fun. Reviewer: Kathryn Erskine