Hyacinth Girls by Lauren Frankel
Crown Publishing: 5/12/2015
eBook review copy, 304 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9780553418057
Hyacinth Girls by Lauren Frankel is a highly recommended, powerful novel about bullying.
"Do you know your children?"
That is the question Rebecca, the guardian of 13 year old Callie, wants
the parents of other teens to ask themselves. She has a billboard made
that features Callie's face and the pointed question erected in hopes
that someone will take notice. But to tell us the story of what has
happened, Rebecca goes back six months to an incident where Callie was
accused of bullying another student, Robyn. Callie denies the
accusations and Rebecca rallies to her side, defending her.
As she relates the story behind the billboard, Rebecca also reminisces
about the past. She has been a part of Callie's life since her birth.
She was best friends with Callie's mother, Joyce, and took over as her
guardian when Joyce died. Rebecca and Joyce called themselves the
"hyacinth girls" and were inseparable for a time. Rebecca does her best
to understand what Callie is experiencing while at the same time she is
recalling past betrayals in her friendship with Joyce. But Rebecca
doesn't really understand at all what Callie is going through or what role she has played in the drama unfolding.
The narrative is separated into separate sections where the story is
told first from Rebecca's point of view and then Callie's point of view.
The story gets much better and acquires some depth once we can read
Callie's thoughts. It's not that Rebecca's character is awful, but she
seems rather simple and naive. Once Callie's voice is given, at over
half way through, the narrative takes on more depth. Included throughout
all sections are short numbered installments detailing the history of
Callie's interaction through messages and texts with Robyn, the girl she
was accused of bullying.
While the writing is quite good and the story timely, I've lowered my
rating one star simply because of the length of the first section told
in Rebecca's voice. The true reality of what is going on doesn't come to
life until you start to read Callie's story. As most people know, teens
keep secrets and you will likely suspect that there are secrets, but
won't quite understand the whole story until later, even the story of
Callie's childhood and her parents. This is a novel that deserves some
attention. Mean girls have always existed and nothing seems to change
that equation. (Look at Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye.)
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy
of Crown Publishing for review