4 out of 4 stars
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It's 1955 in Shawnee Bluff, Kentucky. Eisenhower is in the White House, World War II is a recent memory, and FDA approval of birth control pills is still five years away. In this coming of age tale, twelve-year-old Patti Jo Williams is better than her little brother Rusty at everything, especially baseball. But in her small town on the southern shore of the Ohio River, she is progressively limited by her sex to those activities reserved for women. Then the new girl Flannery arrives at Sunday school. Patti Jo is the only one to befriend her, and they become fast confidantes in a world full of party lines, soda fountains and little league baseball.
Too Bad She's A Girl is the debut young adult novel from author JW Templeman. Independent heroine Patti Jo is reminiscent of Scout, Atticus's feisty daughter in To Kill A Mockingbird. She is the innocent eye in this tale. She sees hypocrisy and struggles to understand the inconsistencies between people's platitudes and their actions. Patti Jo often gives words to her thoughts unfiltered, and has to suffer the consequences.
Templeman's writing easily draws you in as she paints a portrait of Shawnee Bluff and the people who live there. The story is laced with the classic quick wit and clever turns of phrase southerners are famous for. With an alcoholic philandering father often away for days at a time due to his bus-driving schedule, Patti Jo and her mother Helen share camaraderie that makes her home's stifling atmosphere bearable.
Feminist readers will enjoy this tale for its historical value. The book is a snapshot of an America before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and before Affirmative Action. The women in the story are relegated to child rearing, keeping the home and perpetuating their roles in their daughters. Too Bad She's A Girl is a sweet, funny story addressing issues that everyone can relate to: independence, honesty and loyalty. Patti Jo embodies all of these qualities. She refuses to be put into the box that the townsfolk and her parents try to force on her, and her defiance makes her a loveable, memorable character. As her father is fond of commenting, "If she was a boy she could 'a set the world on fire".
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. This is an excellent debut novel from Templeman. Read this one. You will not be disappointed.
Too Bad She's a Girl
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