Book: Judy Bloom. Deenie. New York: Bradbury Press, 1973.
Genre: Realistic fiction
Age: 6th to 9th grade
Read-Aloud: : )
Summary: Deenie is an average 7th grader going through typical issues many face at this age group including boys, body changes, fitting in with friends, and becoming curious about sex and intimacy. She is gorgeous and has been pushed into modeling by her mother from a young age; though she is aware of her beauty she does not enjoy modeling and is unsure of pursuing it as a career. When she is diagnosed with Scoliosis, a disease that affects the way her spine developes. She is forced to wear a brace for the next four years, putting her modeling career on the back burner and she suddenly experiences the feeling of being self-concious about her appearance that she had never experienced before. Throughout the novel she grows as an individual and becomes more comfortable with her medical condition as well as learning how important the support of family and friends are while coping with her new lifestyle.
Coming of Age: Deenie is dealing with a sudden medical disability at an age when boys become important, family is not always the easiest to be around, and friends are the most important part of life. At first she is angered by having to wear her brace, though the anger never completely subsides as time passes she become more accepting of it and finds herself content with the ailment. She also is finding out what it is like to get attention from a boy she likes and the effect boys can have on friendships as well as relationships with her family members. Also, sex becomes a theme throughout the young adult novel and she becomes more curious about the changes she is experiencing mentally and physically.
Family: Deenie’s mother has always harped on the fact that Deenie a beautiful girl and her sister is incredibly smart; she identifies the girls by these traits and has different expectations for each girls based on this fact. Her mother has high hopes for Deenie become a model, yet Deenie has little desire to pursue modeling and would rather engage in activities that young adults generally entertain themselves with. Her father is Deenie’s comfort zone and is often the voice of reason is this chaotic household. Eventually Deenie finds that her family is more important at this point in her life then other things she was concerning herself with and the chaos subsides as acceptance by all sets in. Her sister becomes a caretaker for her as certain points and while her mother remains upset about her medical condition her sister and father realize that Deenie needs support from them to help her overcome the hardships of this time in her life.
Connection: This book is relatively easy to connect with most young adult novels geared towards young girls going through puberty and experiencing emotions and feelings typical of this age group. A particular connection i made to certain parts of the book though was a graphic novel called Fun Home. The themes and topics discussed as well as the age group is vastly different but the main character experiences many sexual impulses that Deenie experienced and sparked her curiosity. Also both of these characters explored the idea of Masturbation as a young age when they weren’t sure what it was just that it made them feel good and calmed them down when they were over whelmed.
Reactions: I enjoyed this book very much. Though it was for a much younger audience it reminded me of issues i encountered surround boys, friends, and family when i was a young girl. I feel it is a good book that opens young girls eyes to the fact that they are not alone in feelings they may be experiencing as well as questions that they may have. Also, young girls may have never been exposed to the toll that medical conditions may have on those who are diagnosed or if they do have a medical condition they feel connected to the character of Deenie and can empathize with her.
On goodreads.com Jamie rated this book 4 stars. She liked the connection that she, herself, made with the main character as well as the connection other young adults could have with this novel. As a 7th grader herself she really enjoyed putting herself into Deenie’s shoes, which is something she may never experience herself but she liked reading about.
“This book is about a teenage girl named Deenie. She has a spinal problem and has to wear a brace. Deenie trys to hide it at first and tries her hardest to take it off but her boyfriend ends up finding out. She gets invited to a party and tries to go behind her father’s back and take her brace off but decides not to leaving a “Take me as I am or leave me.” attitude with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend ends up liking her as she is and she realizes that she had nothing to worry about.
I can connect Deenie to many teenagers or pree teens at our school, and their insecurities. I can understand how Deenie did not even want her friends to know about her brace.
I rate this book 4 stars because it teaches you alot about what people go through and how they feel. It also let me step into the shoes of people with a brace and made me realize I have to be thankful for what I have. I would recommend this book to teens or pre teens who have similar problems and anyone who likes realistic fiction books.”
Derrick, another reader that wrote a review on goodreads.com discussed how this book was on the banned book list because of the topic of masturbation that is discussed. He did not feel it necessary to banned this book and that the ultimate message of the book is one children should be exposed to.
“Picked this one up and read it in one evening sitting at the library — it’s a young adult novel that’s under 200 pages. I was reading about Banned Books Week, and saw a lot of Blume’s books on the list. This one was apparently banned for it’s frank discussion of masturbation. Ridiculous. The topic only comes up by name once, and that in the context of girls’ gym class discussion with their teacher. She has them write anonymous questions on cards, and then they discuss the answers.
The sad thing about people wanting to ban a book like this one is that it has many strong messages for teens, both girls and boys. Deenie is a beautiful 7th grader who doesn’t want to be a model like her mom wants her to be. Events in her life force her to come out of her self-centered shell and see people as human beings worthy of notice. Her relationship with her sister grows, she learns a little about how to communicate with her parents, and she makes some new friends with people she refused to notice before because they were weird. Even her love-interest likes her for who she is, not who she should be. It’s a great set of messages that all young people need to hear (and many of us adults, too).”