Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom, by Susin Nielsen

Title:  Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom
Author:  Susin Nielsen
Publisher:  Tundra Books
Year:  2010
Pages:  240
Genre:  Realistic Fiction
Themes:  Divorce, Family
Age Range:  6th-8th Grade

Two year ago, Violet's life took a sudden turn-for the worse.  Her TV director dad met a 24 year old actress named Jennica, and took off with her for sunny LA, leaving Violet, her sister Rosie, and their mother behind in Vancouver.  Since then, Violet pretty much hates everything-her step-mom's fake boobs, her middle-school nemesis Ashley, and the fact that her mom has become a serial dater.  After a string of failed relationships, her mom brings home Dudley Weiner, a pudgy, nerdy punster in whom Violet can see no redeeming qualities.  Despite her best efforts to sabotage their relationship, her mother seems to really like this guy, even though he has man-boobs.  In a last ditch attempt to break them up, she starts writing letters to George Clooney, hoping to offer her mother a chance at the man of her dreams.  When Violet goes to LA to visit her dad on the set, it seems that she just might make that Clooney connection after all.

Written with refreshing honesty tinged with a sense of innocence, the character of Violet comes clearly off the page in this young adult novel.  Violet could be just about any 12 year old girl.  She's self-conscious, awkward, and self-absorbed.  She's angry with her mom, her dad, her step-mother, even her two year old "half-sisters", as she insists on calling them.  She tells herself that her spying on and being rude to her mother's dates is just a way to protect her family, but what she is really afraid of is someone taking the place of her dad.  Nielsen even makes the George Clooney tie-in believable, what with her dad being in the business.  Nielsen writes about Violet's various escapades with a sense of humor that keeps this story from straying into Lifetime movie territory, which as an adult reader I appreciate.  There are no easy answers in this novel, and no tearful reconciliations. This book would make a great addition to a classroom library-I think that there are plenty of kids out there who would completely relate to Violet and what she is feeling.

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