Say the Word

Say the Word

3.8 28
by Jeannine Garsee
     
 

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Perfectionist Shawna dates the right boys, gets good grades, and follows her father's every rule. So when her estranged lesbian mother dies, Shawna needs to figure out how to have the perfect reaction. But anger from being abandoned ten years ago, combined with the introduction of her mother's other family, threatens to leave Shawna spinning out of control. A

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Overview

Perfectionist Shawna dates the right boys, gets good grades, and follows her father's every rule. So when her estranged lesbian mother dies, Shawna needs to figure out how to have the perfect reaction. But anger from being abandoned ten years ago, combined with the introduction of her mother's other family, threatens to leave Shawna spinning out of control. A relatable and honest teen voice-and a shocking secret-make this novel a true page-turner.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

"Powerful and compelling . . . this sensitive and heart-wrenching story slowly unfolds into a gripping read." —Booklist, starred review

"Garsee has created an intense, frank novel with fragile, resilient, believable characters." —School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

Garsee's (Before, After, and Somebody in Between) second novel hits the ground running and doesn't let up. Shawna Gallagher, a high school senior trying to live up to her domineering father's expectations, is awakened one night by a phone call: her estranged mother, who left Shawna and her father years earlier for a woman, Fran, has had a stroke. Following her mother's death, Shawna must confront her feelings about her mother and her own prejudices (she has particular issues with gay people, which are further complicated when her best friend comes out). Shawna's father, learning that one of Fran's sons is in fact his child by Shawna's mother, fights for (and gains) custody of the boy-finally spurring Shawna to defy him. The novel overflows with story lines and plot twists-Shawna's romance with her stepbrother (and her father's with her former babysitter), her ailing grandfather and the ridicule she faces in school. Nevertheless, Garsee presents a compelling portrait of a young woman growing up and coping with an overwhelming array of problems. Ages 14-up. (Mar.)

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VOYA - Hilary Crew
Seventeen-year-old Shawna has been living with her controlling father since her mother left ten years before to live with her lover, Fran. When the mother she barely knows dies, Shawna gets to know Fran and her sons—Arye and ten-year-old Schmule—despite tensions among them. But she takes, without permission, photographs from Fran's home that she thinks are of her when she was small. Her father realizes that they are photographs of the son to whom his wife must have given birth after leaving him. Arranging for a DNA test, he goes to court to claim custody of Schmule. Through her first-person narration, Shawna tells about her gladness in having a brother but also her knowledge that her bitter father is destroying Schmule and Fran's family. Shawna defies her father and the court decision and takes Schmule back to Fran. The story especially highlights the difficulties and emotional stress arising from the denial of civil rights to gay partnerships. But the fast-paced plot is overloaded with issues, including Shawna's verbally abusive father, hyperbolic family conflicts, a best friend who comes out as a lesbian, sexual harassment, a forbidden friendship with Arye that includes consensual sex, and finally a solution to Schmule's custody in which Shawna agrees not to tell about her father's rape of her mother, an act that Shawna witnessed at the age of seven, if her father gives up all claims on his son. All in all, however, it is a reasonable read. Reviewer: Hilary Crew
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

Seventeen-year-old Shawna Gallagher is the poised daughter of a high-powered physician and a mother who abandoned the family 10 years earlier. Raised to be a fine hostess, excellent student, and future doctor, Shawna finds her "perfect" world unraveling when she gets a fateful phone call from her mother's Jewish lesbian partner, Fran. Shawna's mother has had a stroke and is near death. The teen is thrown into a tumultuous period during which everything she has believed-about herself, her demanding father, her "crazy" mother, her mother's partner, and their family-is open to question. Drawn reluctantly into Fran's family story, Shawna finds herself torn between her father, who is always right and always in control, and these strange people whom she does not want to know, but who somehow speak to her sense of fairness and, even more strangely, family. Shawna's actions seem to bear out her own "split personality," as the consequences of her forbidden involvement with Fran reverberate throughout their lives. Garsee has created an intense, frank novel with fragile, resilient, believable characters. Some relationships almost border on the contrived, but, overall, this is a mature and gripping coming-of-age story.-Roxanne Myers Spencer, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green

Kirkus Reviews
Perfectionist Shawna hasn't seen her mother, Penny, in years, not since Penny left their Ohio home to live with another woman in New York. When she dies suddenly of a stroke, Shawna gets to know Penny's partner, Fran, and her two sons. Their relationship goes from accepting to awkward after Shawna learns that one of Fran's sons might be her blood brother. The custody battle that ensues puts Shawna in the position of go-between, in which she gets caught between her love for her brother and her father's use of the law to do the legal, yet unkind, thing. During this time of upheaval, Shawna also learns that her best friend is a lesbian. Garsee manages to give every character depth and dimension without falling into the trap of making the children too perfect and angelic and the adults imperfect to the point where the reader loses sympathy for them, save for Shawna's father. The details of Shawna's daily life sometimes slow down the plot, but it is because of these details that readers will believe Shawna's final transition from doormat to independent thinker. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781599906133
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
02/15/2011
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Jeannine (Jen) Garsee is a nurse in inner city Cleveland, Ohio. She is also the author of Before, After and Somebody In Between. She lives with her family in Ohio.
www.jeanninegarsee.com

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