My Tiki Girl

My Tiki Girl

3.8 17
by Jennifer McMahon
     
 

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Maggie was looking for a friend in Dahlia. She never guessed she’d find love, too.
All the tenth-grade girls hate Dahlia Wainwright—a smart, natural beauty and freaky outsider all in one. And that’s exactly what Maggie Keller is drawn to, for she herself is an outsider, having withdrawn from the high school elite crowd after a

Overview

Maggie was looking for a friend in Dahlia. She never guessed she’d find love, too.
All the tenth-grade girls hate Dahlia Wainwright—a smart, natural beauty and freaky outsider all in one. And that’s exactly what Maggie Keller is drawn to, for she herself is an outsider, having withdrawn from the high school elite crowd after a car accident that killed her mother—an accident for which she blames herself. But Dahlia’s friendship—a manic journey into new identities and outrageous behavior— transforms Maggie in ways she could never have imagined. In her stunning first young adult novel, bestselling adult author Jennifer McMahon paints a lush portrait of the healing power of love.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As McMahon's (Promise Not to Tell) uneven first YA novel begins, 10th-grader Maggie, the narrator, has ensconced herself in the dysfunctional family of her new best friend, Dahlia Wainwright, whose imbalanced mother uses dolls to "predict the future, or maybe even control it." While describing the Wainwrights' rituals in great and often burdensome detail, the author gradually reveals that the formerly popular Maggie has survived a car accident that killed her mother and has left her with scars, a limp and a terrible sense of guilt. Maggie admires Dahlia (who "leaves traces of herself wherever she goes, the way a shooting star leaves a streak of light behind it"), and soon her feelings turn sexual. To this already freighted plot McMahon adds a story line about an improbably good band which the girls form with two classmates, both of whom seem cast much too conveniently. Although much of the story is far-fetched and ancillary characters are unconvincing, Maggie's feelings for Dahlia are believable, and lyrical descriptions buoy the prose. A satisfying end rewards readers who make it to the finish line. Ages 14-up.
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Children's Literature - Abby Spencer
At one time, Maggie was popular. Now, she is an outcast known as the Frankenstein girl. After the accident that killed her mother left her leg scarred and pieced together by rods and screws, Maggie is in need of a friend. The day Maggie introduces herself to Dahlia Wainright is the day Maggie's life is forever changed. Dahlia is smart, beautiful, eccentric and mysterious to all the other tenth grade girls. Their budding friendship soon turns into much more for Maggie, who thinks she could be in love with her new best friend. The outrageous journey of Maggie and Dahlia's friendship turned love relationship leaves them and the world around them eternally altered. This coming-of-age story of heartache and hope takes the reader on Maggie's journey to discover her true self and demonstrates how one can be transformed by the power of a first love. Reviewer: Abby Spencer
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up

Maggie's sense of self was shattered, along with her leg, in a car crash that killed her mother two years ago. Now 15, she is reborn in the alternate identity of "LaSamba," an eager follower in the wild, creative fantasy world of her intoxicating new classmate Dahlia ("Tiki") and her mentally ill mother. In this emotionally powerful and realistic story set in the 1990s in a small town in Connecticut, Maggie loses herself completely in her new identity, and slowly but surely comes to find a true, new self that includes the indisputable-but scary-fact that she is a lesbian and in love with Tiki. Readers are swept along with Maggie's swirling feelings, making it easy to understand how easily this fragile, sensitive girl could lose herself. Secondary characters also have complex emotions and motivations. Had this novel been published 15 years ago, it would've been a groundbreaking addition to LGBT literature; as it is, it still stands strong as a period testament to the anti-"lesbo" feelings of that era, as well as simply a well-written tale of self-discovery. Sex scenes focus on emotion and are not overly explicit.-Rhona Campbell, Washington, DC Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
An author for adults shifts her audience to teens with mixed success in this romance about two girls. The slow-paced plot hinges on familiar elements: a teenager whose mother has died, a strong sense of alienation and a surprisingly successful band. Tenth-grader Maggie, who was popular in junior high, attributes her current alienation to the car accident two years earlier that killed her mother, for which Maggie feels guilty. Calling herself "Frankenstein girl" because she limps, Maggie befriends another outsider, the new girl Dahlia. Much of the book details Maggie's growing love for Dahlia and her infatuation with the free-spirited but poor life Dahlia shares with her brother and mentally ill mother. Their romance, which becomes sexual, encounters problems and painful homophobia. The girls also start an implausibly good band with a handsome football star who falls for Dahlia. Although most of the other characters are not fully developed, Maggie and Dahlia grow and change through their romance and pain. Readers who like dreamy, even quasi-mystical, nonconformity may enjoy this slightly dark but ultimately hopeful romance. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101043486
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
05/15/2008
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
282,860
File size:
362 KB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Jennifer McMahon lives in Barre, Vermont. Her first novel for adults, Promise Not to Tell, was published in 2007.

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My Tiki Girl 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Maggie Keller's life turned upside down the day she forgot Toto. In eighth grade, Maggie was cast as Dorothy, the lead in The Wizard of Oz. As her mom is driving her to rehearsal, Maggie shouts out that she forgot the stuffed dog at home. Her mom, without checking the traffic around them, turns the car around and causes an accident.

Maggie was once the most popular girl in her class. But after the accident, she has a deformed leg, and considers herself the Frankenstein of the class. Her ex-best friend, Sukie, is the new #1 girl and has a new best friend, Heather. Maggie is on the fringes of school society now.

When Dahlia Wainwright arrives at school, the two form their own exclusive freak club. Dahlia lives by her own rules, not caring what others think. Maggie tries to live that way ATA (after the accident.) Maggie is enamored with Dahlia's home life. Jonah, Dahlia's younger brother, thinks he's magical. And Dahlia's mom, Leah, weaves creative worlds with the dolls that she collects. Leah welcomes Maggie into their lives, dubbing her "LaSamba," the sad clown.

Slowly, Maggie starts to question her feelings for Dahlia. A simple touch of Dahlia's hand causes sparks inside Maggie. Maggie has never felt like this before, certainly not with Sukie, and in hindsight, not with her old boyfriend, Albert.

Soon, the school is hearing rumors about Maggie and Dahlia. For all Dahlia's talk of not caring, she has started to enjoy popularity, and doesn't want to disappear into the unknown again.

The issues in MY TIKI GIRL are definitely for an older reader. Though there are no actual sex scenes in the story, the underlying context is very apparent and may be too much for a younger reader. Maggie struggles to come to terms with whom she is and who she is supposed to be. With a distant father at home, and unusual friends at school, Maggie must decide what it is she wants and go after it.
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Did not like it at all
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Three years since a review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yup