Sunday, June 6, 2010

Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

I decided it was time to try a novel in verse. I love poetry but reading an entire novel in verse seemed well,....tiresome. Shark Girl is in free verse and from the opening lines, I was completely hooked. The attack is recounted in both newspaper articles which are written in prose and flashbacks by the victim and this is the hook that draws readers into the novel.
When 15 year old Jane Arrowood is attacked by a shark while swimming, her life undergoes a radical change. Jane was a gifted, emerging artist who had won many awards for her talent. Now she struggles to cope and understand what the loss of her right arm above the elbow will mean for her life.

Shark Girl focuses on the inner journey Jane undertakes. She wants to be "normal" again. But life is anything but normal. There's the difficulty dealing with a video that was posted online of her attack.There's trying to relearn old tasks that were previously done without thinking....folding the laundry, taking out the garbage and cooking. There's trying to deal with how others now view her, minus an arm. And what about ever drawing again? Can she relearn to draw with her left hand.....
Sharing Jane's journey is Justin a ten year old boy who lost his leg and was in the hospital during the same time period. Justin's innocence and forthright way of dealing with loss help Jane cope.

Despite the heavy topic, there's a lot of wit in Shark Girl. Interspersed throughout the book are "letters" Jane receives from people whose intention is to offer support. One such letter from a little girl who has lost an arm to cancer suggests to Jane that she names her prosthetic. Eventually, when Jane does get a prosthetic arm she names it Chuck. Bingham uses Chuck to show that Jane still has the ability to approach difficult times with a sense of humour. Chuck drives Jane crazy with his clumsiness and he's so hot.
Gradually Jane learns to cope and even begins to find joy in her new life.
I truly enjoyed this book and will be reading another novel in verse very soon.

Book Details:
Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham
Candlewick Press 2007

No comments: