Hope is a Ferris Wheel
by Robin Herrera
Amulet Books, $16.95 hardcover, ISBN-10 1419710397, March 2014
Ten-year-old Star Mackie lives in a trailer park with her flaky mom and her melancholy older sister, Winter, whom Star idolizes. Moving to a new town has made it difficult for Star to make friends, when her classmates tease her because of where she lives and because of her layered blue hair. But when Star starts a poetry club, she develops a love of Emily Dickinson and, through Dickinson’s poetry, learns some important lessons about herself and comes to terms with her hopes for the future.
Life for Star was easier in Oregon. She wasn’t the only kid in her grade who lived in a trailer park, like she is in California. She had plenty of friends and no one made fun of her hair (it’s not a mullet, it’s a layered cut!) In her new school, no one wants to be her friend and the meaner kids call her Mullet. Her efforts to start a Trailer Park Club extolling the virtues of trailer parks fall flat, but when she starts a poetry club, Star connects with a handful of other outsiders. Life gets even more confusing when her older sister’s deep secret opens the lid on yet another secret that changes everything Star thought she knew about her absent father.
Star is stubborn, naive, hilarious, and completely loveable. She learns hard lessons about how society looks at her socioeconomic class, prejudices that seem especially ridiculous when viewed through her childlike but perceptive eyes. As depressing as the subject matter can get, Star always manages to put a funny or at least optimistic spin on everything that comes her way, often in the form of the vocabulary homework she does but refuses to hand in (long story.)
Young readers who have never known what it is to be poor and looked down upon will learn valuable lessons about the other half from Star, and all readers will easily connect with her bright spirit and humor.
Recommend to: Middle grade readers
To buy or not to buy: An excellent selection
*This honest review refers to an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley