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by Ann Dee Ellis
Little, Brown Young Readers, 2009
Review by Christian Perring on Sep 1st 2009
This book for teens has a similar plot to Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur. A young girl has a deeply depressed mother who is acting strangely because a younger sibling has died recently, and she has lots of responsibility thrust on her. In this story Mazzy is living with her artist mother who just lies in bed and does nothing. Her father has just started working at a cable TV shorts channel and is living away from home. So Mazzy has to cope on her own. She wants to be friends with Colby, the boy who lives opposite, but he acts weirdly toward her. Various adults try to help her but Mazzy is suspicious of them, but sometimes she is ready to accept help. She is worried about her mother, and also worried that if her mother is put into a mental institution, she will have to go to live with her aunt in Kansas. While Mazzy's mother is not talking much at all, and sometimes seems to go into a stupor, Mazzy is coping pretty well. However, she still thinks about her little sister often, and has a hard time remembering how she died. Sometimes Mazzy acts weirdly, as a way of coping with her emotions. But it is the summer, so she does not have to go to school. She just needs to be able to feed herself and her mother, which she does. She also makes art, using her mother's art materials, and she draws many of the scenes she talks about.
The book is a collection of short scenes described by Mazzy, with lots of conversation, so it is a quick read. It's sometimes dark and disturbing: it is upsetting that a mother could be so depressed that she would not even respond to her daughter in need. The story ends precipitously, with a hint of hope but a significant chance that all of Mazzy's worst fears will come true. All this may be difficult for some readers, but it does give a powerful representation of the seriousness of depression and some of the challenges that it presents to families.
Link: Author web site
© 2009 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.