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Porcupine Hardcover – September 11, 2007
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— Publishers Weekly
“A masterful novel…. A literary debut of major proportions.“
— Philadelphia Inquirer
Praise for Gemma:
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— Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Formerly a film actress, Meg Tilly is best known for her roles in The Big Chill and Agnes of God — for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress, as well as an Academy Award nomination. Tilly is the author of two adult novels, Singing Songs and Gemma, and is currently at work on her second YA novel, Lucky. She lives in Vancouver, BC, with her family.
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Top customer reviews
Everything isn't okay, though, and Jack's father is killed by friendly fire shortly after arriving in Afghanistan. Jack and her siblings are devastated, and their mother doesn't seem to know how to cope. Jack does her best to hold the family together, but even her best efforts aren't enough, and when the family is about to lose their house, Jack's mother packs up the kids and moves across the country to her grandmother's house.
At first, the kids resent being there with their crotchety old great-grandmother, but Jack overhears something one day that makes her realize things aren't as bad as she thought.
When I started Porcupine, by Meg Tilly (the actress), my initial thought was that the narrator seemed older than twelve, but quickly realized it was because Jack was forced to grow up before her time. I ended up totally engrossed in this story and just sobbed towards the end. I don't think I can express how much I ended up loving this story!
Jack is such a great character. After her father dies, life isn't easy for her, but she doesn't feel sorry for herself, she does something about it! She works hard to help her great-grandmother, to fit in at school and to keep her family together. It's just too much for a twelve year old, but Jack does her best, sometimes stumbling along the way.
Jack's great-grandmother is wonderful too. Sure, she's crotchety, but she's determined and earnest and hard working too. She's fiercely protective of her own and doesn't hesitate to let you know how she feels.
The characters aren't the only good part of Porcupine, though - the story is wonderful too. I got caught up in it quickly and just had to know how things were going to turn out. Things didn't always go how I predicted either! I think there are many young people who can relate to what Jack and her siblings are going through. There is a little language in this book, but it seemed appropriate for the story.
Jacqueline or "Jack" as the tomboy twelve year old goes by, is her father's favorite. She has a snobby younger sister and an adorable younger brother, but she has always been her dad's favorite and both she and her father secretly know this. When her dad goes away to Afghanistan and does not return home, Jack, and her entire family are devastated. Her mom retreats into herself, failing to care for her children and leaving Jack to do the job of finding money for food, keeping the house clean, and trying to make her siblings stay cheerful.
When things get to be too much for her mother to bear, Jack and her brother and sister are swept into the car and told they are going to visit the great-grandmother they never knew they had. Soon, the kids are living on a farm in the middle of nowhere, with a relative that resents their mother something fierce, and a whole lot of thinking time on their hands.
Over the course of a few months, Jack starts to learn that it doesn't really matter if her family is "typical," but rather that she is happy with her newfound situation, making the best of the hand she's been dealt.
Though I think the premise of the book was good and the topic is one that definitely needs to be talked about, especially during the time of war we are currently in, Porcupine just was not the right way to do it. My biggest complaint is probably the language that Jack uses. I counted so many times in which the "f" word was used and "a**hole" was shouted at someone and in this particular book, I didn't feel it had a place. Now I'm not saying that I don't like swear words in teen books...sometimes they have the perfect place...however, the language Jack showcased felt out of place, forced, completely unnecessary, and false.
Overall, I was not impressed. I checked this out at a library near my home and it had been cataloged as a middle grade fiction book, a decision I probably would have made too. After reading it and looking it up on Amazon, I determined it is most definitely meant for young adults, however the young characters allow that fact to be quite misleading.
Again, I had high hopes for Meg Tilly's book, so hopefully I read something better in the future.