Follow @KathreseMcKee

Glass Girl by Laura A. Kurk

 

Glass Girl
Laura Anderson Kurk
WestBowPress
Date:  March 15, 2010
264 pages
ISBN-10: 1449700675
ISBN-13: 978-1449700676
Lexile : 890L based on the analysis of a short text sample

Book Overview:

Glass Girl is the story of Meg and Henry, or rather the first part of their story.  Meg is the new girl in town, but she’s keeping a secret – her big brother died in a violent encounter that shattered her family.  Henry longs to comfort the grief he can sense in Meg, and as they draw closer, he helps her to confront her demons and find a new source of strength.

Positive Content:

Glass Girl is the first title by Laura Anderson Kurk, but it’s full of promise for a her future success in YA.  She has created some deep characters; the reader will come to love Meg, Henry, and Thanett. Henry is the kind of guy you want your daughter to bring home; Ms. Kurk manages to make him a good hero without making him too-good-to-be-true. The reader will even learn to love Wyatt, Meg’s deceased brother, and grieve right along with her.

This is a not just a romance novel.  This is a story about grief and living through the loss of a sibling. Ms. Kurk strikes just the right note of pathos, but out of the sadness, Ms. Kurk also communicates an inner peace and joy to her readers to a degree that is uncommon in YA fiction.

We don’t discover until the story is almost over just how Wyatt died.  The reader winds up piecing together Meg’s past at about the same pace as Henry does.  Even though Meg seems fragile in the beginning of the story, she discovers unsuspected wells of strength inside herself.  In fact, she is the glue that holds her family together against terrible odds.   There is a strong spiritual aspect to the conflict in this book.  Meg has some tough questions about God and about why terrible things happen to people.

Content to Consider: (Spoilers!)

Violence: OCCASIONAL, BUT SERIOUS. THREE FATALITIES

  • When Meg was much younger, Meg’s aunt committed suicide (she hanged herself) and the details are revealed through Meg’s thoughts. The account may be too graphic for younger readers.
  • Some students at Meg’s new school taunt and mimic Thanett, a student who has cerebral palsy. This is part of a pattern of bullying that continues later.
  • Grayson, one of the bullies, comes on to Meg in a manner calculated to intimidate her.
  • Henry carries a rifle when he patrols his father’s ranch.  He does not use the firearm during the story.
  • Meg remembers a time when she was a little girl, and her brother beat up someone who was pestering her.
  • Just before the Christmas break, many fights break out in the hallways of the school.  This is stated, but no details are given.
  • Several football players rough up Thanett in the locker room after school, and Meg overhears.  When she tries to come to Thannet’s aid, Grayson manhandles her; she fights him off, stumbles into a pane of broken glass, and is injured. The players simply abandon their victims. Thanett  has had an “accident” before Meg enters the room. Meg and Thanett wind up visiting the Emergency Room together to get stitches. They don’t press charges.
  • Meg’s thoughts flash back to an accident she had with a razor the first time she tried to shave her legs.  This is a disturbing memory.
  • When Henry sees Meg’s injuries, he threatens to “kill” Grayson.  We learn that Henry does hit Grayson, and convinces Grayson that it’s in his own best interests, both personally and legally, to stay away from Thannet and Meg.
  • Extra Large Spoiler!! Wyatt, Meg’s brother is shot by another student in school, trying to save a girl, before the other boy shoots the girl, and then kills himself.

Crude, Vulgar, or Profane Language: RARE

  • Meg has a flashback to a day when several people berate a morbidly obese woman; one man calls the woman a “lard-ass”.
  • There are a couple of euphemisms used in place of stronger language.

Sexual Content: MILD

  • Grayson implies that Henry has had a sexual relationship with a girl that used to work for his father.
  • Tennyson, who is crazy about one of the guys at the wild party, retreats to a bedroom with her love interest.  Other couples are more public with their amorous pursuits, but the sex is implied rather than detailed.
  • Henry and Meg don’t progress beyond kisses and cuddles  in their physical relationship.
  • Meg goes back to her old house over the Christmas break to spend the night alone.  Henry shows up (it’s not how it sounds). Henry learns all about her brother’s death, and he lies down in her bed to hold her until she falls asleep.  He sleeps in a guest room.
Drug/Alcohol: OCCASIONAL
  • Meg’s mother uses tranquilizers to cope with her grief.  She neglects her medications for depression, and eventually, she overdoses on Valium.  She recovers.
  • Tennyson talks Meg into attending a cook-out; it turns out to be a wild party, complete with booze, cigarettes, and weed.  Meg is the odd woman out since she doesn’t take part in the action, but she is stranded because her friends, Tennyson, Taylor, and Sara (all under age), have been drinking and/or smoking the weed.  Another guy calls Henry, who is not at the party, to take her home.
  • A reference is made to the football players’ frequent hangovers.

Negative Content:

  • Meg’s mother implodes as a result of her grief after her son’s death.  There a few ugly episodes in the book when she acts out, screaming at her husband and even turning her anger on Meg.  Eventually, she abandons her husband and daughter to wallow in her grief and depression.
  • Tennyson, Sara, and Taylor, some girls at Meg’s new school, talk her into going camping.  What they don’t tell Meg is that they will be trespassing on private property.  Tennyson has chosen Henry’s ranch in hopes of attracting the attention of one of the wranglers.
  • At Christmas, which is also Meg’s birthday, Meg and her father fly to spend the holiday with her mother and her aunt’s family.  Before they arrive, Meg’s mother runs away.  Meg’s father leaves her to go find her mother.
  • We learn that Grayson, the bully, is a product of his upbringing.  Grayson’s father is abusive; Grayson also knows that his father was unfaithful to his mother.
  • Over Spring Break, Meg visits her mother.  When she arrives, her mother has gone into a complete decline. During the first night of her visit, her mother takes too much Valium. Meg is able to call an ambulance in time to save her mother.
  • Meg and her father make the decision to check her mother into a treatment facility.

Spiritual Content:

  • Meg has been to church only a few times in her life, and not at all since she turned twelve.  Her parents are good citizens, but they aren’t practicing Christians.
  • Henry is the son of devout Christians; his faith is his own, though, and he’s a realistic example of a young man trying to live his life according to his beliefs.
  • Meg has serious questions about the nature of God, suffering, and death.  Most of these issues are discussed with Henry whose views are far different from hers.
  • Meg goes to church with Henry and is deeply influenced by her experiences with Henry and his family.  She learns to trust in Henry, and by extension, in God.
  • Meg reaches a breaking point, but she decides to trust that God will give her enough strength, moment by moment, to get through.
  • Meg decides to put on Christ in baptism, and she begins her walk of faith near the story’s end.

My Personal Opinions:

Ms. Kurk doesn’t shy away from describing mental illness or the difficulties of dealing with depression and grief.  The death of a young person is so hard to bear and tears many families apart.  The story of Meg’s family is tragic and true-to-life, and their reactions to grief are believable and gut-wrenching.  Meg’s struggle to live through the experience and emerge on the other side will draw you in and cause you to consider the sorrows of those living around you.

Readers, ninth grade and up, will identify with Meg and Henry and want to know what happens to them next.  Fortunately, Ms. Kurk has written a sequel, Perfect Glass, which tells of the surprising twists and turns Henry and Meg encounter in the next year of their lives.  Perfect Glass does not, as yet, have a publication date.  Stay tuned…

www.pdf24.org    Send article as PDF   
About the Author

Kathrese McKee started life as a Systems Engineer at EDS, spent time in real estate, taught middle grade Reading and ESL in Texas, and settled down to blog and write speculative fiction for Young Adults.

As a teacher, she fell in love with books written for Teens and Young Adults. Her favorite books are “coming of age” stories about young people on the difficult road of self-discovery.

Comments

  1. Oleta Coleman says:

    Wow! that sounds like a deep read, if the reader is on the immature side; however, am impressed that the authoress allowed Meg’s source of strength to ultimately originate from God (through a faithful follower) instead of the per usual “hang tough and pull oneself up by one’s own bootstraps) formula.

    Thanks for sharing — I am sure there are parents of young adults who will profit from your site.

    • Thanks for the encouraging feedback. Glass Girl set aside the stereotypes of fiction that includes Christian characters. This is a modern tale told about people like you might meet almost anywhere in the United States. The author dares to address some issues from a spiritual perspective.

  2. I enjoyed reading this and am impressed with how thorough you are! What a great resource this is to parents. As a YA author, I field a lot of questions about where to look for clean fiction and I’m going to send them to your site. Your understanding of Glass Girl shows me you might have read it as closely as I did! 🙂 I appreciate that you understand Meg’s heart. Thanks so much for reviewing it and please let me know if I can answer any questions. Blessing to you in your valuable work.
    Laura

Trackbacks

  1. […] I wrote my first Book Report for Glass Girl, Laura Anderson Kurk has become a very dear friend. She invited me to be her critique partner […]

  2. […] called MomsRead.com, had just posted a thoughtful and thorough review of the original edition of Glass Girl. I liked her sense of my book and an idea formed in my head that maybe she was the one I’d […]

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge