Title: Tomato Girl
Author: Jayne Pupek
Yearly Count: 9
This is the story of a family, a girl, a mother and a father who in a perfect world would have lived happily ever after, but not in Tomato Girl. Pupek does not cut corners or try to make life sound pretty or at all innocent. Ellie Sanders is a young girl, a preteen sweetie who tries her hardest to learn her mama's moods, act kind, and not be selfish. She feels it is because of her selfishness that bad things turn into worse things. Her mama is there for her some days, and others she tries to hurt herself, she tries to hurt others or just is not functional enough to have even the slightest common sense about life. Ellie and her father try to care for Julia, Ellie's mother, but the strains become heavier and heavier.
After a tragic accident she will never be the same, darkness has set into their home, because of Julia and Ellie will do her best to cope while it just won't go away. Then comes Tomato girl, a pretty teen who is broken herself and yet Ellie's father lusts after her. Ellie is torn between wanting to please her father and her feelings of hatred towards the Tomato girl. All she wishes is that they could get rid of the tomato girl and become the family that they once were, before the sadness set in, before life went wrong.
As much as I just couldn't put this book down, as well as it was written, and as true as the situations are to others who have lived in the midst of dysfunction and mental illness, it was seriously hard to read about. I loved Ellie and that is what made me stick to it, her voice is strong, she is no coward and she is left to take care of her mother out of love, yet she fears for her mother's life and her own. Fate begs her to grow up way before time, and then she will need to learn to un-grownup.
I have mixed feelings because it was hard for me to read, all the severity of the plot, and what was done to the characters, but still the writing was superb, the characters were true and Ellie, oh Ellie...she was brilliantly written and personified as that individual inside all of us who tries, and then tries harder- life gave her a truckload of lemons and she scrambled to get on top of the pile to start the process of lemonade. There is no way I can't recommend it, really there isn't. I think this would be a perfect book for so many, those who carry burdens, teachers, parents, counselors- really anyone who works with teens or kids. I recommend that you grab a copy and a warm blanket and have at it!
What about you? Do you recommend books that you had a hard time getting though, but at the end you can see why the journey was necessary? Sometimes I feel too strained, to stressed in my own life and then books like this bring things back into perspective. If we all only wanted to read happy books, what would be the point of that?! To understand your blessings you must understand the depths of despair. Don't do you think?
Author's Website: Jayne Pupek
Jayne Pupek's Blog: Notes on (the writing) Life
Here is the book trailer: