Get Real


Dez is unusually neat. Her mom and dad are unusually messy. They like Cheez Whiz and swamps. Dez likes elegant food and grand pianos. How can she even be related to them? And how can Dez help her best friend, Jil, who's adopted and who will stop at nothing in order to meet her birth mom? What is it, exactly, that makes a parent "real," anyway? Get Real is about wanting a parent who is very different from the one you have. It's about discovering, "Who am I?"

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Get Real

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Dez is unusually neat. Her mom and dad are unusually messy. They like Cheez Whiz and swamps. Dez likes elegant food and grand pianos. How can she even be related to them? And how can Dez help her best friend, Jil, who's adopted and who will stop at nothing in order to meet her birth mom? What is it, exactly, that makes a parent "real," anyway? Get Real is about wanting a parent who is very different from the one you have. It's about discovering, "Who am I?"

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Narrated by straight-thinking Dez, Hicks's (Out of Order) poignant novel is indisputably real from the start. A self-proclaimed "neat-oholic," this 13-year-old sometimes wonders how she can be related to her poetry-spewing Duke professor father, her environmental scientist mother and younger brother, whom she deems the "three most un-neat people in the history of the world." The spanking clean house of her best friend, Jil, poses the perfect contrast; Jil's seemingly perfect parents have everything filed away and labeled and their home holds a shiny grand piano. To Dez, the instrument embodies all that she holds sacred: "A piano is precise. Neat. Everything in its place. Every day." Though the narrator would give anything to own a piano and take lessons, Jil, who has both, could care less about it. Also rankling Dez is the fact that Jil is adopted, "which means she totally lucked into this awesome house and family." Yet emotional chaos invades Jil's carefully ordered life and by extension Dez's when the teen, unbeknownst to her adoptive parents, tracks down her birth mother. Dez begins to fear that she will lose her best friend. As Hicks describes how impulsive Jil and insightful Dez work through a discordant time, she shapes an honest story that contains resonant messages about identity, honesty, family and friendship. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Amie Rose Rotruck
Dez would like nothing better than to switch moms with her best friend Jil. Dez likes things to be neat and elegant, while her parents are messy and eccentric. Jil's house is always immaculate and Jil's mom has even started teaching Dez to play the piano. When Jil tells Dez that she has decided to make contact with her birth mother, Dez is concerned. Jil's parents are wonderful and, while Jil's birth mother seems fun at first, problems soon arise. A frantic phone call from Jil forces Dez to choose between proving her desire for piano lessons and staying safe, to risking everything to help her friend. Along the way both girls wonder what truly makes a parent "real." While this story examines adoption from a second-hand point of view, that does not lessen the impact of the issues raised. Hicks has created very believable and sympathetic characters, from Dez and Jil to their families. A wonderful read for anyone who ever thought they were in the wrong family.
VOYA - Patti Sylvester Spencer
Many teens have been embarrassed by their parents, but fewer have been thoroughly puzzled by parents, as is thirteen-year-old Destiny, whose personal habits and goals appear in direct opposition to her parents. Dez practically alphabetizes her closet, but her parents keep tools in linen drawers in their North Carolina home. While Dez ponders striking differences between herself and her parents, she reluctantly helps more affluent friend Jil with a series of adventures, the most poignant of which is contact with her birth mother. Jil's excitement and fascination with a half-sister and birth mother creates tension on several fronts, placing stress on friendships and family relations. Although Jil's families are less thoroughly developed, Dez's family sparkles with detail, from her dad with whom she speaks in verse-he in classical poetry, Dez in nursery rhyme-to three-year-old Denver, a dynamic dervish, spilling and breaking whatever he comes near. From baby-sitting to piano lessons, from secret plans to following college basketball, the novel portrays fairly typical teen lives, giving readers opportunities to examine their own parents, biological or adoptive, as individuals, puzzling through what it means to be or have "real" parents.
School Library Journal

Gr 5–8
Eighth-graders Destiny and Jil joke about the differences between their families. Dez's English-professor father, weather-obsessed scientist mother, and younger brother keep their household messy and chaotic. The teen finds it remarkable that Jil doesn't realize she is lucky to have been adopted by perfect people whose luxurious home is always in order. Although her friend complains that she feels stifled, Dez is still shocked when Jil confides that she's meeting her birth mother, Jane, and her 10-year-old half sister, Penny. Dez counsels caution, but the more impulsive Jil is rapturous about her newfound family and chooses to spend holidays and the summer with them. When Jane falsely accuses Jil of shoplifting in order to protect Penny, the teen leaves, tries to live on her own until she can think of what to say to her parents, and gets Dez to join her. Hicks does a good job of conveying how difficult, tedious, and potentially dangerous it is for 13-year-olds to survive this way, even for a night or two. Jil finally acknowledges that her adoptive parents offer her what she needs-love, stability, and mature nurturing. The protagonist's longing to meet her birth family and quest to discover her identity are believable, but the girls' discussion of which parents are "real" is handled with little subtlety. Although the book captures two young people trying to work out relationships and may appeal to fans of realistic fiction, it is likely to be of special interest to adoptees.
—Deborah VoseCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Jil [sic], an adopted eighth-grader, wonders about her biological or "real" mom, while Dez, her best friend and the narrator of the story, wonders how a neatnik like her ended up in a family of slobs. In Hicks's perceptive, tender tale about what it really means to be a family, Jil makes contact with her birth mother and genetic half-sister, while Dez struggles to convince her poetry-spouting father and swamp-loving mother that she's responsible enough to stick with her decisions. Although Jil's experience with her biological family turns out to be more bitter than sweet, much of the narrative is laugh-out-loud funny, especially Dez's interaction with her professor father and scientist mother, a woman who "watches the weather channel like it's Sex and the City." Poignant and playful meld seamlessly, and the life lesson-that parents are the people who go out of their way to take care of you-is germane to adopted and biological children alike. (Fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596430891
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 9/5/2006
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Betty Hicks says, "I'm adopted, but I've never wanted to search for my birth parents. I did want to explore the different ways of affirming your own identity, adopted or not." She lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, and is the author of Out of Order, praised as "humorous and insightful" by Publishers Weekly in a starred review.

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