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Claiming Georgia Tate

Claiming Georgia Tate

4.3 8
by Gigi Amateau

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"It’s rare and exciting to discover a talented new writer like Gigi Amateau." — Judy Blume

Twelve-year-old Georgia Tate wishes she could stay home in Mississippi forever with her preacher granddaddy and her best friend Ginger. After losing her nana to a heart attack, she desperately wishes she could tell her granddaddy why she


"It’s rare and exciting to discover a talented new writer like Gigi Amateau." — Judy Blume

Twelve-year-old Georgia Tate wishes she could stay home in Mississippi forever with her preacher granddaddy and her best friend Ginger. After losing her nana to a heart attack, she desperately wishes she could tell her granddaddy why she can’t possibly move in with Daddy — about the things he does that make her feel so ashamed. With a vivid narrative voice, Gigi Amateau tells an unflinching tale of a sensitive girl caught in the trauma of incestuous abuse. But it is also a story of survival — an ode to the solace of family, the mercy of strangers, and the possibility of hope and healing.

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT - Shaunna Silva
Georgia Tate Johnson has led a quiet life with her Nana and Granddaddy Tate in Ripley, Mississippi. She has always been told that her mother is dead, and her father has been a scarce figure. But when he wants her to vacation with him and his girlfriend in Florida, Georgia's grandparents have no choice but to relent. It is a short-lived visit, with Georgia pleading with her Nana to rescue her from her father's sexual advances. It is a secret that the two share, not letting Granddaddy Tate know what really happened. Summer goes on as normal until Georgia learns that everyone in town knows that her mother is really alive, but crazy, and that she ran away from an insane asylum. When her grandmother dies suddenly, Georgia is devastated but ready to take on the care of the house and her grandfather. Granddaddy Tate, wanting to avoid a custody battle, sends Georgia off with her father, knowing nothing of what she had experienced on her previous vacation with him. Georgia goes from a naive, sweet kid to a young woman forced to dress up in revealing clothes and high heels to go out with her father every evening. Each night she prays that he will get drunk enough to not try anything with her. The simple life she knew is long gone. However, not all hope is gone for Georgia, who finds a friend in a transvestite neighbor who shows her that love can be found in the worst of situations. Though often sounding young and naive, Georgia is the painful narrator of this tender and poignant story of a girl changed forever. Teenage girls will love her innocence and rally with her to the end. The sensitive subject matter is treated carefully by the author, without any intensely graphic scenes. A great debutfor this author!
Children's Literature
With a strong voice and vividly rendered sense of place, twelve-year-old Georgia Tate narrates a story of surviving sexual abuse that is, necessarily, also a coming-of-age tale. Despite the fact that this book is being marketed as a young adult novel, it is not a story for twelve-year-olds—not even for young teens. Little may be taboo in YA subject matter these days, but it is not only the difficult emotional material that makes the reviewer hesitant to recommend this book to anyone younger than sixteen. The hesitation comes also from how the story is told. Set in Mississippi and Florida during the 1970s, the book unfolds the history of sexual abuse of Georgia by her father, which culminates in a scene in which he rapes her. The narrative makes moving use of poetic indirection to circumscribe many difficult events, but also reports overheard language with brutal frankness. The writing is well-observed and has an expansive sympathy; the intimate, first-person voice is believably enough a young teen's voice. Yet the accrual of details, the way the voice lingers on certain moments and perceptions and passes over others, seems strikingly constructed to satisfy an adult sensibility. There is something in this voice that whispers of an adult looking back to comprehend a terrible childhood experience. In the final chapters, the narrative shifts toward a more YA feel when a group of odd minor characters, introduced in rapid succession, and with some heavy-handed political correctness, helps Georgia regain her way to what turns out to be a relatively safe universe. While many teenagers may find the emotional territory covered in the narrative threatening or overwhelming, this could be amoving book for any person who has suffered similarly, to read as part of a healing process, or for an adult book group discussion. 2005, Candlewick, Ages 16 up.
—J. H. Diehl
Considering that the 12-year-old narrator of this novel is sexually abused by her father, remarkably little time is spent dealing with the issue, as if the sexual abuse were more of a plot device to get Georgia back in the arms of her grandfather than a real trauma. That quibble aside, however, the narrative voice here is measured and wise beyond her years, yet rings authentic. Georgia is raised by her grandparents in the rural South, her daily life filled with work, religious worship, friendship, and fun. When her grandmother dies unexpectedly, Georgia's grandfather decides to send her to live with her father. The results are not good, and Georgia must find her way back home. She has the gift, as many protagonists do, of making friends with bizarre strangers who later can help her, in this case: a transvestite, a refugee from Haiti, and a convict recently released from prison. The ending is bittersweet yet hopeful. The characters evoke enough interest to hope for a sequel. 2005, Candlewick, 196 pp., Ages young adult.
—Myrna Dee Marler
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Having been told that her mother is dead, 12-year-old Georgia Tate Jamison has enjoyed an idyllic childhood in the warm embrace of her maternal grandparents. When her mostly absent father demands that she vacation with him and his new wife, Sissy, in Florida, Reverend and Mrs. Tate reluctantly allow him to assert his parental rights. Soon, Georgia calls her grandmother for rescue from her father's sexual advances. The Tates come for her immediately, but neither Georgia nor her grandmother can bring herself to tell anyone else what has happened. Then the girl learns that her mother is not dead, but has left after being discharged from an insane asylum, and Nana suddenly passes away. Believing he is doing the right thing, Grandfather Tate sends her to be with her father. Infuriated by the obvious sexual seduction, Sissy kicks them out, and Georgia finds herself in a filthy apartment, hoping her father will get drunk enough each night to leave her alone. As she is more severely sexually battered, Tamika, a transvestite, helps her. Amateau offers numerous well-developed characters including positive male role models in her grandfather and an unlikely ex-con who befriends her on the bus. The '70s social pecking order seen through Georgia's eyes is unvarnished and truthful. From the smell of the fish frying at home to the feasts offered at summer revivals, this novel is very Southern, yet universal in essence. Encompassing terrible things, this is still a story of faith and differing facets of individual spirituality. A moving first offering.-Cindy Darling Codell, formerly at Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Although this debut shows promise in its engaging narrative voice, too many tragedies and unusual characters, including a transvestite and a generous ex-con, overwhelm the plot. Twelve-year-old Georgia Tate Jamison has a contented life with her grandparents in Mississippi in 1975, until the father she barely knows invites her to visit him and then sexually abuses her. She returns to her grandparents' home, but when her grandmother dies, her caring grandfather, unaware of the abuse, ignores Georgia's fear of her father and sends her off to live with him, where the abuse worsens. Ample details create a strong sense of time and place, and Georgia gains the reader's sympathy with her friendliness and love of life. However, the ending is marred by her implausibly quick emotional recovery from the incest, and, equally implausible, the implication that her father will be easily made to forfeit custody of her and even be imprisoned for the abuse. (Fiction. 13+)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.60(d)
880L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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Read an Excerpt

Claiming Georgia Tate

By Gigi Amateau


Copyright © 2005

Gigi Amateau

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0763623393

Sometimes he goes out so deep with me that the water is over my head and I get scared. Then he picks me up and holds me close to him -- too close for me, but we are so far out that I can't let go. In the city pool at home, I am a good swimmer. I don't even mind going down to the deep end sometimes, but it's different being here in the ocean.

His wife, Sissy, has frosted blond hair. She is the prettiest woman I have ever seen. She doesn't swim or make sandcastles. She sleeps on the blanket while my father and I swim.

I am wearing my purple two-piece bathing suit with white flowers all over the top and bottom. I am staying with my father for the summer. Even though I don't know him so well, he makes me call him Daddy. Daddy picked me up from Nana and Granddaddy Tate's, and we drove all the way from Mississippi to Jacksonville, Florida, where he and Sissy live. As soon as we walked in the door, Sissy started complaining about feeling cooped up. So we packed up and drove here to Panama City.

I don't really remember much about my daddy before now. He moved away when my mama died, and I'm real glad that I don't live with him all the time. Sometimes I'll get a card at Christmas or on what he thinks is my birthday. Nana always asks me if the card has any money in it. It never does.

"You sure are a pretty little girl" was all my father said when he first saw me at Nana's. I justkept on looking at the ground, hoping he'd go away, until Nana poked me in ribs. Then I said, "Thank you."

"How old are you now, ten?"

"No, sir, I'm twelve."

I could tell Nana really didn't want me to go with him, and I certainly didn't want to go, either. But she and I already had a big fuss about it -- more than one fuss, in fact. Nana has never really liked my daddy, or his family. They are what she calls social -- that means they drink.

In my mind, it would all be a whole lot easier on everybody if my daddy just stayed away. But Nana and Granddaddy Tate say he's got rights. If you ask me, which nobody does, they don't want to cause a big stink about me going with him, because they're scared of him.

CLAIMING GEORGIA TATE by Gigi Amateau. Copyright (c) 2005 by Gigi Amateau. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.


Excerpted from Claiming Georgia Tate
by Gigi Amateau
Copyright © 2005 by Gigi Amateau.
Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author

Gigi Amateau says that she was first "introduced" to the character of Georgia Tate in the summer of 1996. "While writing her story over the next six years, I came to know her well and found we have a lot in common," she says. "We're both from Mississippi. We both love catfish, watermelon, and rainy days, and our granddaddies saved our lives — mine when I was fifteen and in a lot of trouble and hers when she was twelve and far away from home. Georgia Tate has taught me so much about hope, family, and claiming the life that is yours."

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Claiming Georgia Tate 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in one evening, it was so riveting and compelling. The characters were richly drawn and true-to-life, and the writing smoothe and lyrical. Great descriptions. I fell in love with Georgia Tate and want to read a sequel. This is one wonderful girl to root for and we need to see the book come to life on the BIG SCREEN! I'm so looking forward to more from Gigi Amateau - such a wonderful talent.
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Alyssa1050 More than 1 year ago
Claiming georgia tate is an amazing and very emotional book. while i was reading it i felt like i was georgia tate and being in her situations made me feel teary eyed. this is a must for every teen to learn how others may feel that are in her situations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Claiming Georgia Tate is a wonderful novel! The title character has such a strong voice and presence, I found myself reading the last half of the book through tears. The portrait of life in small-town Mississippi is thoroughly believable and rich in detail. The novel is an enjoyable escape into a rich Southern life filled with memorable characters a la The Secret Life of Bees or Because of Winn Dixie.