Book Review: Reckless, Glorious, Girl by Ellen Hagan
The co-author of Watch Us Rise pens a novel in verse about all the good and bad that comes with middle school, growing up girl, and the strength of family that gets you through it.
Beatrice Miller may have a granny’s name (her granny’s, to be more specific), but she adores her Mamaw and her mom, who give her every bit of wisdom and love they have. But the summer before seventh grade, Bea wants more than she has, aches for what she can’t have, and wonders what the future will bring.
This novel in verse follows Beatrice through the ups and downs of friendships, puberty, and identity as she asks: Who am I? Who will I become? And will my outside ever match the way I feel on the inside?
A gorgeous, inter-generational story of Southern women and a girl’s path blossoming into her sense of self, Reckless, Glorious, Girl explores the important questions we all ask as we race toward growing up.
Oh, how I hope middle schoolers pick up this book. Beatrice is asking the biggest question: who am I? Having recently survived parenting a human through middle school, I am convinced that, in general, there is no worse age, no worse time, no worse everything than middle school. What a hard age. Hagan deftly captures how complicated this age is, and how all-consuming the questions of identity and fitting in can be.
I loved this book for a lot of reasons, and one of the biggest is Beatrice’s relationship with her grandma (Mamaw) and her mom. It’s loving and inspiring and accepting even when it’s challenging and frustrating and disappointing. With her Mamaw, she has a wonderful role model for embracing eccentricity and being yourself, whoever that is. She encourages Beatrice not to observe life from the sidelines, but to get right in there and live life.
Beatrice longs to show people more of who she really is, the parts that no one ever sees, her multitudes and complexities. She’s feeling a pull between her old self and the new self she maybe wants to be. She knows she sometimes mimics who she’s with, that she changes depending on who she’s around and the expectations. She’s worried about shaving, bras, periods, dating, kissing, and popularity. She wants to be noticed, to be really seen, to be liked by a boy. She does and feels all these things in the company of two totally accepting and unique best friends, friends who let her grow and change and make mistakes. Listen, for middle school? that’s a great depiction of friendship.
The message to be yourself, to be free, to not let others define you, and to not hide yourself away comes across loud and clear as we watch Beatrice fumble her way through early adolescence. This novel in verse will speak to many who so totally and completely relate to how Beatrice is feeling. She’s yet another middle grade character I want to give a hug and say, I know this is hard, but you will be okay. Thankfully, she has wonderful people in her life to do this. A beautifully written book with an empowering message.
Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 02/23/2021
Age Range: 8 – 11 Years
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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