Stranded [NOOK Book]


My best friend, Katy, says a person with a sparkly two-part name like Kelly Louise should be guaranteed a little glamour and excitement and not be forced to move back to Mom's middle-of-nowhere hometown—now the center of a media frenzy since a farmer found an infant in his cornfield. (It just slipped from some mystery mother's body without anyone noticing.)


But Baby Grace shadows every hair flip, every wink, and is keeping me from ...

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My best friend, Katy, says a person with a sparkly two-part name like Kelly Louise should be guaranteed a little glamour and excitement and not be forced to move back to Mom's middle-of-nowhere hometown—now the center of a media frenzy since a farmer found an infant in his cornfield. (It just slipped from some mystery mother's body without anyone noticing.)


But Baby Grace shadows every hair flip, every wink, and is keeping me from losing my virginity, despite my dynamite new boots. Even Katy doesn't have any more good advice. The one boy around who rates anywhere near acceptable on the Maximum Man Scale only has eyes for my cousin, Natalie, who only has eyes for Jesus.

But Natalie has a secret.

Everyone is so busy burying the truth about Baby Grace, they can't see who they're burying alive.

Welcome to Heaven, Iowa.

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Editorial Reviews

ALA Booklist
Praise for FREAKED:“Fast, wry first-person commentary.”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
Praise for FREAKED:“First-time author Dutton shows a sharp wit. A hoot.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Kelly Louise’s narration…is wry and often hilarious (sometimes from her own mistaken but seemingly unshakable convictions about her worldly wisdom). The character portraits are particularly impressive in their originality and richness. Readers will relish both the entertaining narration and the inevitable ensuing arguments about the ethics of the situation.
VOYA - Nancy Pierce
When Kelly Louise's mother falls on tough financial times—again—mom and daughter move from Des Moines to the small farming town of Heaven to live with Kelly Louise's grandmother, and cousin Natalie. As it turns out, things are anything but dull on the farm. The town scandal is that a newborn baby was abandoned and died in the fields, but only the family knows that the baby was Natalie's. Natalie has turned her attention to the church and the advice of Pastor Jim, never revealing who was the father of her child. But Kelly Louise is more interested in making a name for herself at her new high school and trying to have fun in spite of her devout cousin and oppressive grandmother. She's intrigued by the attractive "bad guy," Steve, and Kenny, whose family deals drugs. The longer Kelly Louise lives in Heaven, the more she learns of what happened to Natalie and experiences sex, drugs, police raids—pretty much everything one would think could be avoided by leaving Des Moines. Yet through these experiences, Kelly Louise learns some surprising information about her new friends, herself, and what exactly happened with Natalie. Stranded hits all the hot topics: unwanted pregnancy, crime, sex, and drug use. While the author tries to be amusing and edgy, the writing often falls flat, and the high-interest topics aren't enough to consistently keep the reader's attention. Teens may find the subjects of interest, but the lack of real character development won't leave them thinking much about this book after the last page. Reviewer: Nancy Pierce
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Narrated in Kelly Louise's often-breezy, 15-year-old voice, this story is set into motion when a newborn is found dead in a cornfield. Kelly Louise and her mother move to rural Heaven, IA, to support the teen's grandmother and her deeply religious, uncommonly beautiful cousin. Natalie, it turns out, is the mother of Baby Grace, though it is never clear why she chooses to confide in her aunt. The girls have little in common: as Kelly Louise texts her hip friend back in Des Moines, Natalie makes signs for her youth group vigil in memory of the infant. The tone of the story varies from funny (rule-bound Nana is described as "the old S.S. Unpack This Second") to serious (a baby has died, after all) to descriptions of school events and musings on conservation and ecology. At times the story seems to absolve Natalie because someone took advantage of her and she blocked out the fact that she was pregnant, while at others she seems to be nursing a guilty conscience for breaking her virginity pledge. Equal in focus to the abandoned-baby story line is Kelly Louise's realistically portrayed relationship with a rock-band-wannabe neighbor and her loss of virginity while under the influence of pot. At the end of the novel, she sets into play events that lead to Natalie's arrest, although details are few as to how this affects Natalie or her family. Stranded might have readers where books such as Amy Efaw's After (Viking, 2009) have an audience.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Named for actress Tina Louise, Ginger on Gilligan's Island, Kelly Louise and her single mother are leaving Des Moines for her mother's hometown, Heaven, Iowa. But life is far from idyllic as the 15-year-old moves in with her cleaning-obsessed Nana, shares a bedroom with her Jesus-, kitten- and unicorn-loving cousin Natalie, undertakes the impossible task of finding a boyfriend mid-school year and becomes intrigued by the media frenzy surrounding Baby Grace, a newborn abandoned in a cornfield. Her edgy, first-person narration puts forward a drama queen in public, but she lays herself bare with self-deprecating humor in private. Occasional touches of wry humor, such as her partying classmates at Carrie Nation High School (named for the hatchet-wielding member of the Temperance Movement), punctuate Kelly Louise's angry and guilt-ridden struggles with impulsivity, sexuality, religious hypocrisy and small-town life and its gossip. When she learns the mystery of Baby Grace's murder, the teen must weigh her truthful convictions against the consequences of revealing family secrets. Kelly Louise's fresh voice will change the way readers think about "good" girls. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061998430
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/8/2010
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 904,796
  • Age range: 14 years
  • File size: 294 KB

Meet the Author

J. T. Dutton is the author of Freaked, her debut novel. She was born in Connecticut, attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, and afterward spent time in Portland, Maine, and New York City before moving to Alaska to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks MFA program. Her interests include backpacking, horseback riding, and yoga. She lives in eastern Ohio with her husband, her two children, and her cat.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Good Addiction Review

    Definable, sprightly characters, a blend of serious and humorous, and a strong setting are the most notable aspects of Stranded. The drastic changes Kelly Louise is suddenly pushed into provide a driving force for both the plot and development with her own character, and the overall way things play out runs smoothly. A great YA voice that brings life to Kelly Louise while still being something likable for a range of readers also embolden this book.

    Kelly Louise is as unique as her name, a city girl pushed into a country setting with a very strict, religious grandmother and cousin. Her love and obsession with boys provides a great contrast to Natalie's uptight ways and the trouble she often finds herself in comes off primarily as comical because of the situation. Given the heavily religious nature of her grandma and cousin, as well as the constant Christian tones of the town, Kelly Louise's determination to lose her virginity adds another bit of flare to the story overall. The reason she ends up moving to Heaven comes out pretty early on and is one more thing she has to deal with. Her views on the situation bring out her character strongly, as do her interactions with her peers. There is a noticeable difference between her and her peers as she finds herself in uncomfortable situations and dealing with an unexpected inability to fit in and find friends.

    Natalie is an interesting character, a girl with a woman's body but lacking such a mature mindset. After finding herself in a bad situation, she tries to set things right and move forward. Her battles against Kelly Louise provide tension as well as humor, competition bred both of out the situation and being the same age but having very different childhoods. Natalie's background comes up often, also helping lend her an overall public persona of being a good girl who can do no wrong.

    Kenny is the boy who lives next to Kelly Louise's grandma, the son of a drunk and the boy everyone assumes will end up in jail. A trouble maker, a loner, and often getting high, Kenny butts heads with Kelly Louise while also providing some sort of camaraderie and friendship towards her. As their relationship starts to grow, becoming something more than bickering school mates but still not entirely what Kelly Louise would really want, another element and source of tension is added overall to the story. Despite the way he comes off, Kelly Louise finds a different side of Kenny and he provides a source of mixed feelings for the reader.

    Though the abandoned baby incident happens before Kelly Louise and her mother move into Heaven, it is still constantly brought up throughout the town. The circumstances behind it do become known and as Kelly Louise struggles to understand and reconcile, so does the reader. Dutton has pitched numerous questions into this book, handling it all masterfully and smoothly with both a gentle hand and humor. There is tremendous character growth for Kelly Louise as the story progresses, both in the way she views the world and those directly around her but also in her maturity level and mental setting.

    As the plot progresses, and the truth regarding baby Grace comes out, the overall situation and turmoil builds. With plenty of high school type incidents to keep the teenage tone, Dutton creates a strong mix between high school and life. Things finally build to a surprising climax, driven primarily by Kelly Louise and rendering this a big story in character growth and development.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Is this Heaven, Iowa? How ironic

    I don't have much experience with small-town Iowa, but I really loved the strange reaction that Kelly Louise stirred up in Heaven. Usually I see people falling over their feet to impress the "city girl" in books or maybe coolly look at her and deem her approachable, but for Kelly to remain an outsider was a new and interesting approach. Stranded is more of a real-life piece of work - no over-the-top drama, no sizzling romance - just honest-to-goodness life and what comes of it.

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  • Posted November 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Melanie Foust for Teens Read Too

    Kelly Louise is forced to move away from her friends and fabulous life in Des Moines temporarily, according to her mother, to go live with her grandmother and her completely perfect cousin, Natalie. She doesn't really know why they're moving to Heaven, Iowa. Her mom might have gotten behind on the rent or gotten sick of the job she always complains about. Nothing big, or so Kelly Louise believes. If anything, she'll simply die of boredom. However, Heaven will not live up to its namesake. Shortly before Kelly Louise moves there, a scandal had broken out. A baby was abandoned in a cornfield. The baby is dead, and no one knows to whom it belongs. Who could leave a babe, hours old, alone in a field? What kind of person could do that? A secret that big can't stay hidden forever, and soon Kelly Louise will long for the days when her largest problem was simply trying to fit in at school. The mystery in STRANDED is by far the best part of the book. There are so many possible scenarios this book could follow, and I found myself continually guessing which path the story would take. The characters are multi-layered and are all more, or less, than what they appear on the surface. Although a sudden change of tone in the final chapters of the book will take a little getting used to, overall, STRANDED is an intriguing book that follows Kelly Louise's journey of learning how to cope when everything you know changes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:


    This was the first book I've read by J.T. Dutton so I didn't know what to expect. But the story intrested me, so I bought the book. Within the first few pages I was hooked. I had to find out what happened to Baby Grace. I would recommend this book to any of my friends, and I hope J.T. Dutton writes more books because I would love to read more by her.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    the END is greater than the means

    The quirky thoughts of the protagonist had me cringing the whole read, but by the end I was stratified and content. Here the end is greater than the means.

    Kelly Louise comes from a pretty dysfunctional family. Her and her mom move around a lot usually because rent is due. The latest move though is to her Nana's house, and Kelly Louise can't seem to figure out why. What entails is the realization that a big secret can emotionally tear a family a part.

    Like I mentioned earlier Kelly Louise had lots of quirky, random thoughts and actions. I am not sure if it was because she was emotionally protecting herself, immaturity or that's just the way she was. I am leaning towards a combination of all three. Quirkiness aside, she is an outsider trying to fit in, thinks about sex a lot and has such strides in character growth. She does what the adults in her family should have done.

    Speaking of adults brings me to Nana. She is a hard nose, shows no love type of gal. She wants things to be perfect, like her house and family. She may love her family, but it doesn't show. Her emotions are only apparent when it comes to the house (protective booties) and is the appearances of her family (turtlenecks and church.) I have to say I am proud of how Kelly Louise handles her nana, she just accepts her the way she is.

    Natalie, Kelly Louise's cousin, is pretty much the reason for the story. On the outside she is perfect; beautiful, smart and says/does all the right things. On the inside she is a scared and emotionally wrought girl who needs help. Kelly Louise sees her for who she is and eventually calls her out on the carpet.

    The plot. I really liked it, it moved a bit slow, but still it was good and different. There were times when I thought characters were insensitive, and stereotypes where over played but really it all just came together. The truly disturbing part of the story was Baby Grace, the abandoned baby. It was saddening really.

    I give this book 3 STACKS

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