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Blue Plate Special Hardcover – September 23, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 10 Up—Three generations are portrayed in this compelling novel about complicated relationships between mothers and daughters. Overweight Madeline, growing up in the 1970s, has taken care of her alcoholic mother for as long as she can remember. Food is her crutch, until she meets Tad, who changes her life. But a tragic accident leaves her pregnant and alone. Desiree, growing up in the 1990s, tells her story in free verse. Her mother's boyfriend rapes her in the backseat of his truck. After a falling out with her mother, the pregnant teen runs away. Ariel's story begins in 2009. Her father is in jail; she lives with her workaholic mother who offers little guidance, allowing Ariel to make her own decisions. But, as her relationship with her boyfriend becomes more troubling, Ariel realizes just how much she misses and needs her mother's support. As the stories develop, readers begin to see clues as to the relationships among the teens. Of the three stories, Ariel's is the weakest compared to the palpable emotions conveyed in Madeline's and Desiree's stories. But, it's Ariel's insight ("We all inherit someone's leftovers") that gets to the crux of the book. Life lessons abound in this grim look at how decisions can have lasting effects. Short, alternating chapters among the teens and authentic voices make this a good choice for reluctant readers.—Kelley Siegrist, Farmington Community Library, MI
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"...[A] moving novel narrated in alternating voices....a larger tale of love, abuse, understanding, and forgiveness. The women aren't all likable, but they are authentic, and each story explores single motherhood, body obsession, and the search for meaningful love. Each woman's hard-fought journey towards self-respect makes for difficult yet compelling reading."
LIBRARY MEDIA CONNECTION, STARRED REVIEW
This book is impossible to put down and would be especially appreciated by older teen girls. It would also make a great discussion book for a mother and daughter to share.
"...Kwasney effectively develops her characters into multidimensional personalities, convincing in their strengths and weakness..."
The overall picture is of hope and affirmation, and readers will applaud these flawed but resilient women.
"the kind of novel that mothers should give to their daughters or, even better, read and discuss together.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"Short, alternating chapters among the teens and authentic voices make this a good choice for reluctant readers."
"Kwasney's protagonists are distinctive and empathetic, her narratives meticulously structured and realistic, exposing the unpredictability--and sometimes unfairness--that life can bring."
Top customer reviews
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My #2 test is connected to how I read the book. Some books I tend to race through because I want to see how the plot develops. That's ok, but, for me, a truly great book is one where I savor each word because the words seem to have been chosen with such care. Blue Plate Special was that kind of book. As much as I was drawn into the plot, I also was enjoying the prose the way one enjoys a beautiful poem. I couldn't stop reading because I wanted to know the end, yet I didn't want the end to come. That paradox is precisely my definition of a great novel.
I loved Michelle Kwasney's two earlier novels, Baby Blue and Itch, and was deeply moved by the main character in Itch, but this adult novel seems to have brought the author to a new depth and height of creative achievement.
The hardest thing about reading a wonderful book like Blue Plate Special is that my subsequent reads pale in comparison. I have read 3 novels since Blue Plate Special and they just don't know how to make me skip dinner and read into the early morning hours.
I guess I'll just have to wait for Michelle Kwasney's next book!