Left Out (Looking for Normal Book 1)
Being different isn't easy but it can be exciting! How well do you know your friends? Are they left-handed or right-handed? Are they left-brained or right-brained? And what difference does it make?
Shocked at discovering how left-handers are persecuted, Jamie ties her hand behind her back for a public protest in school. This does not go down well with the teachers. Her best friend Ryan joins in but just when their campaign is working, Ryan's mother drops a bombshell. She's whisking him off from Wales UK to live back in America. There he faces bullying at its most deadly, and Jamie has to live from one email to the next, waiting to know whether her friend is hanging in there.
A modern classic of friendship and teen life, with all its pitfalls and challenges.
"As a parent and a teacher, I felt this book in my gut. It hits so close to home on more levels than I can count." Anita Kovacevic, teacher and children's author, contributor to the international Inner Giant Anti-Bullying Project.
The story touches on numerous important issues about growing up, without preaching, judging, laying blame or displaying any prejudice. Introducing the theme of prejudice through the seemingly simple problems of a left-hander in the right-handed world lures us into seeing our world as it is - filled with prejudice all around. We realize how many times all of us show it, unaware, yet effectively hurting each other. The witty and humorous parts of the story and the wonderful characters will feed your soul, and basically inspire you to be a better person, not a mere conformist. A special treasure are the various kinds of parents in the story - they made me angry and smile at the same time, as I recognized myself in their attempts at doing what's best for their kids and loved them for it. Jamie and Ryan will, no doubt, resonate with teenagers - there is so much to relate to with those bright kids growing into great people.
The author shows admirable understanding of the teenage mind, led primarily by their emotional world, as they try to tug themselves out into reasonable adulthood. She displays the depth of their conviction, which sometimes may be misguided, but is deeply felt nonetheless, and we should therefore respect it in all its seriousness. For instance, when the main character Jamie observes her mother and never wants to be like her - we've all been there, right? Or when Ryan (mis)judges his mother's intentions - that scene made me rethink my own relationship with my son. Reading about Kelly's misplaced trust and about Ryan's new school, opened my eyes to the fact that it is no wonder how many teenagers enjoy gaming and fantasy so much - it is easier to bear than their own reality. But life has its twists and turns, and when we try to do better, we can, as Jean Gill proves. The story is permeated with author's expressive style gems, such as comparing Jamie's family to a bus terminal, informative texts about left-handers (with charming comments by the main characters) and the realistic family conversations.
As a parent and a teacher, I felt this book in my gut. It hits so close to home on more levels than I can count. I felt for all those kids, all those teachers and parents trying, failing and succeeding at doing the best they can. It is amazing to see how similar parenthood is all around the world, how many things can go wrong, how many times misunderstandings stem from brief, implied (mis)communication instead of good old-fashioned listening. This may well be the best writing by Jean Gill I've read yet, and I am so happy to know there are so many books I still haven't read by this author.