Like John Neufeld (see Freddy's Book, KR, p. 817, J-269), Judy
Blume seems to be growing impatient with fictional considerations
and more preoccupied with her bibliotherapeutic themes - which is
not to deny that this could hit a responsive nerve with her
body-centered early adolescent readers. At the beginning Deenie is
an ordinary seventh grader preoccupied with making the
cheer-leading squad, disgusted by hunchbacks and cripples and a
classmate with eczema, and plagued by a stereotypically insensitive
mother determined to make a professional model of her pretty
daughter. Then the gym teacher suspects and doctors confirm that
Deenie has scoliosis, "a structural curvature of the spine which
has a strong tendency to progress rapidly during the adolescent
growth spurt." The rest of her story - about half of which seems to
take place in doctors' offices, where we are exposed to all the
processes involved in making a brace mold, deals with her
adjustment to the brace that she will wear for four years in order
to grow up straight. Instead of giving Deenie any personality or
independent existence beyond her malady, the author throws in the
subtopic of masturbation - Deenie likes to touch her "special
place" to get "that good feeling," and is relieved when the gym
teacher tells the class it's okay - which only makes the story's
hygienic slant more pronounced. (Kirkus Reviews)
Scoliosis twists Deenie's plans for seventh grade in this classic
Judy Blume novel with a fresh new look.
Deenie's mother wants her to be a model, with her face on magazine
covers--maybe even in the movies--but Deenie wants to spend
Saturdays with her friends Janet and Midge, tracking Harvey
Grabowsky, the captain of the football team, around Woolworth's.
She wants to be a cheerleader, too, and go to the seventh-grade
mixer to hear Buddy Brader play his drums.
Instead, Deenie is diagnosed with scoliosis. And that means body
stockings to squeeze into, a roomful of strangers to face, and a
terrifying brace that she'll need to wear for years that goes from
her neck to her hips. Suddenly Deenie has to cope with a kind of
specialness that's frightening--and might be hers forever.
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