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on June 25, 2012
This book is not a book that I would have picked up on my own I don't think. The overview sounds good and it has a pretty cover, but it's nothing that really would grab my attention. That being said, I LOVED this book. It was beautiful and heartbreaking. It has some very serious issues in it, and a really great message. A few actually. I was immediately immersed in Apron's life and hoped needed to know that things would work out for her. This thirteen year old girl goes through so much in a few months and she still manages to hold it together. She is a very strong character, but she is also still just a young girl. This book made my heart ache.

Apron is such a great character. She is missing her mother who died, dealing with her new step mother who happens to be pregnant, and pretty much hates Apron and her father doesn't really help matters. He is forever siding with M as Apron calls her. She has lost her best friend to the popular girl and in general just feels so alone and sad. She ends up befriending Mike who owns a flower shop with his boyfriend Chad and after a while ends up helping them out there. This isn't without other complications though. Things at home aren't great, and the secret that Chad has is making things difficult at the flower shop too. If I was in Apron's situation there is no way I could have handled myself the way she does.

Apron's father is a Latin professor and tends to be really busy with school stuff even at home so he is more of an absent parent. It's not that he's not around, but he isn't there for Apron when she needs him mentally. He fails to see how horrible M is to her. He doesn't see how much Apron needs to know that he loves her and will be there for her. That he hasn't forgotten her for M and the new sibling that will be coming.

Mike and Chad are really great. I couldn't help but feel that if I were Apron's parent I wouldn't really feel comfortable with her hanging out with two grown men, gay or not, but I am really glad that she became friends with them and they became such a big part of her life. I loved how they were with her. They didn't treat her like a little girl. They would mention how she was a kid, but they respected her. Chad and Apron got a long great. They would spend hours together reading or telling jokes. Mike is a bit more serious, but he was still really great and if Apron needed something he was there for her.

Aside from them there are other really great characters and them some that I didn't care for much. I loved her grandmother. She was a riot. I didn't really like Rennie, Apron's ex BFF, but at that age that's just the way girls are. It was sad that Apron didn't really have any other friends, but if she did, I don't think that things would have developed the way the did with Mike and Chad. I also liked that the neighbors were brought into the story too.

This story was so touching and also heart shattering. As much as I knew what was coming it didn't stop me from bawling my eyes out. I literally had to put down the book and compose myself before I continued, only to start crying pages later. It was very emotional because of how invested I was in the story. I tend to be a very emotional reader so I expected that. What I didn't expect was that days later, even now, these characters are in my head. I just really loved this book. It is a beautiful and touching story that will stay with you.
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on February 27, 2012
Seize The Day (!) and read "Girl Unmoored" for an original voice that will ring in your ears long after the last page. Apron Bramhall is an engaging, intrepid narrator who takes you along for a bumpy ride, selling cast offs out of an old red wagon, and gaining strength and inspiration from a guinea pig, a flower arranging prophet and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Apron's life is full of surprises -- good and bad -- but her worldview always give you hope and a smile, even if it's sometimes through tears.
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on April 11, 2012
Apron is just finishing up the seventh grade and has had a pretty rough year. Her mom passed away and her dad has started a relationship with Margie (or M, as Apron calls her). Margie is from Brazil and had been her mom's nurse, but now lives with Margie and her dad. She is on a work visa in the United States and Apron believes is looking for Mr. Right so that she will not have to leave. Meanwhile, that is all that Apron wants her to do -- leave.

To top it off, her best friend Rennie has decided that it is time for them to make other friends, so has pretty much abandoned her as well. Now M is pushing to get rid of The Boss, Apron's guinea pig! Before you can blink an eye, it is announced that she is pregnant and is marrying Apron's dad. She is not looking forward to summer having to be around M all the time!

As luck would have it, she is left in a church with her next door neighbor's nephew, who she had seen in the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar. Apron was there as it was her dad's wedding day and Mike was there with his partner Chad decorating for a wedding. Together they ran a flower store called Scents Appeal. They enlisted Apron to help with the decorations and it was the beginning of a great friendship. It also opened Apron up to a world in the 80's that not a lot of people had experience with. At 13, it was a lot to handle. I don't want to say any more about it, as I don't want to spill Chad's secret.

It was really a coming-of-age story for Apron, as she learned to deal with the different ways that you can love people and that sometimes you didn't have to do anything for someone to hate you. This was Jennifer's debut novel and I can't wait to see what she writes next. I definitely look forward to reading more of her work in the future.
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on February 27, 2012
Oh, what a novel! Apron navigates the rock terrain of loss with grit and real grace--and humor. The writing sparkles on the page and I guarantee the story will haunt you. In just one novel, Hummer establishes herself as a writer to watch.
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on August 10, 2012
Darn you, Jennifer Gooch Hummer, for making me cry while marveling at your storytelling ability!!

Apron Bramhall is having a tough time of things. It's 1985, and things aren't going as well as she'd hoped--her best friend decided she'd rather be friends with a more popular girl, her mother died not too long ago, and her evil stepmother is pregnant. But luckily, Jesus saves her--or at least Mike, the actor who plays the lead in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar and bears more than a passing resemblance to the real thing. And as she starts spending time with Mike and his boyfriend, Chad, she begins to realize that she's not the only one with problems--and some have more serious ones than she does.

As Apron gets to know Mike and Chad better, and they offer her a summer job in their flower shop, Scent Appeal, she confronts the prejudices of those in her town, and learns more about what love means and how much it can cost. And as things begin to disintegrate at home, she learns more about people and their true feelings than she ever thought she would.

Once again, I am tremendously impressed by the state of so-called "young adult" fiction these days. I found this book to be beautifully written, poignant, and thought provoking, even as it was breaking my heart, and I felt like all of the characters are fairly well drawn. The transformation Apron undergoes is a realistic one, and you can actually see her eyes opening to the world around her, so she can stop feeling sorry for herself and start feeling for others. Jennifer Gooch Hummer is an amazing writer with so much promise, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. And I'd love to see what's next for Apron and the other characters in the book. Bravo!
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on August 13, 2012
In general, I am not a fan of "coming of age" stories. There's usually a life lesson to be learned, and it's usually beaten over the readers' heads.

Jennifer Gooch Hummer's Girl Unmoored is not that kind of coming-of-age book.

Taking place in the late '80s, the book is the story of Apron, a teen who's completely lost in a sea of change. Her mother is dead. Her best friend is hanging out with the popular people. Her father is marrying a woman who hates her. And no one seems to realize how miserable she is.

She meets a gay couple who run a florist shop in town, and through their support and understanding, gains a temporary reprieve from being around her new stepmother and her problems at home. She soon realizes, however, that there are even bigger problems than she has, and that love doesn't overcome everything.

Gooch Hummer doesn't hammer the lessons of Girl Unmoored over your head, and Apron, aside from her unusual name, is an ordinary girl with an ordinary life. On the surface, it should be an ordinary book, but its so heartfelt and so believable that you find yourself hoping for miracles that don't always happen. This is one of those quiet novels that sneaks up on you and steals your heart.

This review appeared previously on Goodreads.
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Holy cannoli.

This book made me cry, people. I actually wept - more than once!

The story is set during a summer in mid-80s Maine, as Apron Bramhall (yes, that is her name, and, no, it is not a nickname) struggles to deal with her mother's recent death. The nurse who tended her mother, Margie, whom Apron refers to as M, has moved into Apron's house and, apparently, into Apron's father's heart. As if Apron isn't upset enough about her father's budding romance, M wants to kill Apron's guinea pig, The Boss (named after my spiritual fiancé, Bruce Springsteen, and, no, that's not the only reason I like this book). What Apron (or 'Aprons,' as M calls her) needs is a best friend; alas, Rennie, the person who should fill that slot, has dumped Apron for someone with more social cachet.

Apron befriends Mike, whom she first encountered when he played the titular role in Jesus Christ, Superstar. Mike and his partner, Chad, run a florist shop, and as Apron's friendship with them grows, she begins working for them occasionally. This being the mid-80s, Mike and Chad's relationship is not embraced by the locals, and Chad is ill. I'll let you figure out from what.

There are some heartbreaking scenes, but some that make you laugh out loud as well. To whit: When I got to Scent Appeal, the door was open but the lights were off. Usually this meant Mike had gone out to get more flowers or something for Chad. Mike said today would be a busy one. We'd probably have to stay open late because people would be running in at the last minute to buy flowers for their Fourth of July parties, and if that happened, don't worry, he'd drive me home. Mike had even bought a bag of tiny American flags, which I stuck into all the vases yesterday even though Chad said he'd rather have his fingernails peeled off than celebrate Reagan's crusty right-winged America. The real Boss was mad at Reagan, too, for singing "Born in the USA" without permission. The story was on the cover of my dad's newspaper. Even when Bruce Springsteen looks mad, he's still a fox.

Apron's voice rings true to a girl between 7th and 8th grade, and her sadness, frustration and isolation do as well. Aside from her name - it's not even an interesting gimmick - she's utterly captivating. I wanted to hug her. The supporting characters are finely drawn as well, even Apron's father, who, on occasion, I wished I could punch. The story here is just so good. You will start reading and not be able to put this down.

Please pick up Girl Unmoored. You will thank me later.

Published on cupcake's book cupboard. @VivaAmaRisata
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on November 9, 2012
A lot of people have gone through the awkward middle school years; gangly limbs, losing friends, confused about what's going on with their bodies, the world around them and life in general. Those aspects make Apron and the story in general very relatable.

The story is touching and will probably lend to some sniffles if not full out tears. It's a deep read dealing with heavy topics but there is some humor thrown in to keep things from getting too depressing and while it's not a typical happy ending, it's a satisfying ending that we often get in life, where things can be bad but there is hope and new experiences to look forward to.

I'd highly recommend this book for readers of middle school and up including adults.
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on October 9, 2012
"Hard to believe this is Hummer's first novel. Girl Unmoored totally blew me away.*

Apron is only in 7th grade, but she's got adult-sized problems on her plate. I found myself completely enveloped in the story and totally connected with Apron's struggle to keep it together. You root for her from start to finish because she is so ridiculously lovable. Mike, Chad, Toby, Grandma Bramhall. This book is full of characters you wish you could know. It also has characters you hope to never meet in real life. I'm talking to you, M.

I don't usually reread, but I'd like to revisit this story. And I probably will...

*Disclaimer: I had a little bit of trouble getting into it at first, but I am so glad I didn't give up. Well worth the investment because it gets oh so much better."

Originally posted on GoodReads:[...]
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on September 6, 2012
A poignant coming-of-age story set in the mid-eighties. Apron is twelve. She recently lost her mother to cancer, and now she's losing her best friend too. She makes some unlikely new friends when a thirty-ish young man and his partner open a flower shop in town. This book portrays both that time period, with its fear of AIDS, and Apron's school life and age very realistically, and the writing is so lovely it hurts.
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