Title: Trauma Queen
Author: Barbara Dee
Every tween girl knows what it’s like to have a mom who can be a little embarrassing at times. But for Marigold, it goes way beyond embarrassing. Marigold’s single mom is a performance artist, meaning she stages dramatic, wacky performances to express her personal beliefs. Things like wrapping herself in saran wrap for a piece on plastic surgery, or inviting people over in the middle of the night to videotape her sleeping. In fact, Marigold’s mom’s performances caused such a ruckus in their last town that the two of them, along with Marigold’s little sister, have just had to move. Now Marigold’s starting a new school, missing her best friend like crazy, and trying to fit in all over again in the shadow of a mom who’s famous for all the wrong reasons. As if that’s not bad enough, Marigold’s mom takes on a new job–teaching drama at Marigold’s school! Now all the kids know instantly just how weird her mom is, and Marigold’s worried she’ll never be able to have a friendship that can survive her mother.
This book brought me back to junior high and all those feelings that went with it! It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book that really made me remember what that time was like. I cringed with Marigold, felt her confusion and generally felt 12 again!
The Characters: Barbara Dee did a great job creating a very realistic tween girl in Marigold. She had all the confusion, want to fit in and concerns that girls this age face. The way she reacted to events – like showing up to school in PJ’s on a day that WASN’T PJ Day was perfect. I could completely see the students I teach having the same reaction. The way she over-reacted to things was perfect too. Things were either black or white, good or bad – no where in the middle. I see that over and over in my own daughter! There is no gray area, no pause to think clearly – just pure emotional reaction. Now much what she reacted to was justified (I would’ve moved out if my mom did what hers did!!!!!), but of course some was way out of line. As an adult I understood why her old friend did what she did. And really wearing pj’s to school for the day would be fantastic!
Her mom: Ok I’ll be honest – I really didn’t care for her mom. I got the whole “she’s being herself” thing and greatly appreciated that message, but what she did when another mother angered her was too much. Yes she acknowledged her actions later, but to me it didn’t seem to be enough. I thought she should’ve taken more responsibility when instead it seemed like Marigold backed down more. Now understand – a lot of why I felt this about her mother was because I was reading from an adult’s perspective. I think the tween girls reading wouldn’t be bothered by it the way I was.
The Plot: I liked that swung back and forth between what had happened to what was happening now. It didn’t fully explain what had happened in the past right away, so you were definitely intrigued by that. I also like that it didn’t drag out the story and the conflict forever. It told the conflict – showed it happening – and then allowed it to take it’s course. Barbara Dee didn’t keep throwing things into the plot just to drag out the story. It was realistic how it all came together. I know many readers will like that because it kept the book moving at a stronger pace.
The ending was good. It wrapped everything up nicely with just enough lose ends to keep it real. I finished the book feeling my questions and concerns were answered but also know that Marigold had more to face but would do so with more maturity than before.
Final Thought: Very realistic tween story with great voice.
Best stick-with-you image: When Marigold freezes on stage. Glad it played that way!
Best for readers who: are girls!
Best for ages: 9-12