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The Second Life of Abigail Walker Hardcover – August 28, 2012

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442405937
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442405936
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-6-Abby Walker just wants to be like everyone else, until the day that she decides it's OK to be herself. The sixth grader is on the heavy side and has her own ideas. But she has desperately wanted to be friends with the popular girls, who quickly reject and bully her when she stands up for herself. Once she leaves them behind, Abby realizes that there is another world to discover. She doesn't gain superhuman strength or experience a huge boost in confidence; she simply becomes free from the shackles of trying to please everyone at school. Abby is befriended by two nerdy boys and becomes friends with a boy whose father is recovering from PTSD after returning from Iraq. This latter relationship also helps her to put things into perspective and to overcome the challenges she faces. Juxtaposed with her story is a surreal tale about an anthropomorphic fox that wants to help Abby. Every few chapters are devoted to the animal even as the two story lines intertwine. This novel about a character finding her place even if it isn't what she imagined for herself is a great addition to collections on character building.-Kerry Roeder, The Brearley School, New York Cityα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Abigail Walker is a large girl living in a medium-sized world. She tries to fit in at school with a group of girls whose purpose is defined by how bad they make her feel. On top of that, her father nags her about her weight, and her mother fails to recognize how her insistence on constant harmony is inherently unfair. What Abby wants is “rough edges” and permission “to feel whatever it was she was feeling.” When she encounters a fox in an overgrown lot across the street from her house, it has a talismanic effect, and Abby starts to see how social expectations do not define her own happiness. Dowell masterfully handles the hot-button topic of bullying and will have readers contemplating the pettiness and self-loathing that supports it. Beating at the triumphant heart of the book is Abigail’s realization that life is fullest when experienced genuinely. This is a story of Abigail’s crossings: crossing a computer lab to make a friend; crossing a street to find peaceful isolation; crossing a creek to escape a tormentor; and crossing all the lines drawn to prevent her from feeling alive inside. A timely and heartening book for today’s middle schoolers. Grades 4-7. --Kara Dean

More About the Author

Frances O'Roark Dowell is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Dovey Coe, which won the Edgar Award, Where I'd Like to Be, the bestselling The Secret Language of Girls, and its sequel The Kind of Friends We Used to Be, Chicken Boy, Shooting the Moon, which was awarded the Christopher Medal, and most recently Falling In. She lives with her husband and two sons in Durham, North Carolina.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Frances O'Roark Dowell delivers a layered and poignant story not only about social dynamics among girls, but also about the power of love and friendship to rescue hearts on the brink of despair. Unlike some reviews I've read, I resonated with the imagery and use of the fox as a witness, a moral/spiritual guide, and a messenger. The fox's presence and "voice" lend a unique aspect to the relationships that unfold in this story. The symbolism of fox can shed light on its role. Symbolically, the fox encourages us to use our smarts in new and creative ways; to approach our circumstances differently than we normally would; to use the power of our minds where brute strength might fail. Some say that a fox in the dream-world signals that opportunity is coming. Read Dowell's unique story to see how the fox embodies these many traits on the edges of the drama. This book speaks to me because it isn't tidy in dealing with life's trauma, it doesn't cut a clear path for how relationships unfold, and it acknowledges that sometimes we can be recklessly hurt even by those who love us. And, yet, in spite of it all, there is a messenger of hope reminding us that, if we believe in ourselves and take a leap of faith, we can land on the side of healing, friendship, and love. Leap and enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Tozier on October 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Second Life of Abigail Walker is a coming of age novel about a middle school girl dealing with all the normal problems associated with a "medium" girl. A medium girl in this book is considered to be a slightly overweight girl, not fat but not rail thin either. Abigail is forced to cope with a very typical bully situation that young unpopular girls have to go through. Her friends are insecure with themselves and don't like that she sticks up for herself and doesn't conform with their thoughts and ideas. They persecute her because she doesn't believe that making yourself throw up is a good way to lose weight. They mock her pudginess and flaunt treats at her. Even her parents make her feel bad about herself, and try to push these friends on her without listening to their own child to how they treat her.

Abigail is strong enough to separate herself from these so called friends and slowly finds some new ones. She finds confidence she never knew she had. She sticks up for herself against her parents and her old friends. She even learns that being healthy and active make you feel better in the end.

This book really hits home with me right now. My daughter just started junior high and I already see the who the mean girls are and how they treat her. She doesn't conform to them either, and doesn't care what they think when she wears cowboy boots and camo to school. She doesn't let them make her choices for her. I can still see the times when she feels that pang of unwanted-ness, but she pushes though. I am so proud of her and wish that more girls could be as strong as she is. I might make her read this next. (If I could get her to put down Cassandra Clares Mortal Instruments Series.)

To sum it up, I loved Abigail Walkers spirit and perseverance, but didn't understand the fox correlation. I would recommend this book to any middle school girl looking for a little more confidence and understanding that you can be yourself.
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By Valvool on October 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I agree with other reviewers that the inclusion of a sentient fox in this story made all the difference; a book that would otherwise have been another story about the brutality of the preteen social hierarchy gained much depth and resonance. I read the first chapter and was won over immediately, settling in for the rest of the story with great anticipation. The author delivered. A wonderful book.
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Format: Hardcover
When Abby's best friend moved away, she moved to the "medium girls" table. This, as it turns out, was not a good decision. The medium girls are in the middle of everything. They are middle weight, middle popularity, middle everything. Abby is not middle. She outweighs her so-called friends by 17 pounds, and that weight difference makes Abby a target of bullying and teasing by her chosen circle. Things change one day after Abby has an encounter with a red fox in a neighboring lot. The fox gently takes Abby's hand and gives it a nib. This mystical visit seems to give Abby the courage she needs to simply choose to walk away from the bullying and the childish behaviors and begin to move on. She finds new friends at school that appreciate her for who she is and she meets a homeschooled boy named Anders in the woods near her home. Again, a somewhat mystical creature leads Abby to this boy -- a hound named Wallace. Abby learns that Anders lives with his grandmother and his father, a veteran who returned from the war in Iraq a bit broken and terrified. The only thing that soothes Ander's father is a project he has undertaken, an epic poem about the travels of Lewis & Clark. Abby joins in the project by researching animals for the family on the school computer and soon involves her friends in the research as well. As Abby moves outside her own problems with the "medium girls", who do not make Abby's abandonment easy, and with her own self-image to help Anders and his family, she beings to realize that the world is larger than her little corner and that there is joy in the simplest of things -- like a small red fox, an empty lot, and a few true friends. This book was sweet and lyrical. The mysticism of fox and hound added just a hint of mystery.Read more ›
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