Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger

Marcy Lewis is only thirteen, but she hates a lot of things. She hates gym. She hates being fat. She hates her father. She also hates that her principal tried to fire her English teacher, Ms. Finney. Ms. Finney (as yes, that's Ms., not Mrs. or Miss) was the best teacher she'd ever had; she was a teacher who taught Marcy not only grammar and poetic devices, but also about expression, communication, and self-acceptance. When Ms. Finney is removed from her class for her unconventional ways and her refusal to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, Marcy's hate turns to anger, and together with several other classmates she works to find a way to get Ms. Finney back in the classroom.

I had never read this book when I was a child. It was never even on my radar, which is strange, because I think I could have related to Marcy in many ways. It's quite a different experience to read it now, both because of my age and because the book was written so long ago. Particularly intriguing to me was the family dynamic. For example, rather than 'allow' Marcy and her mother to go to a school board meeting, her father dismantles the engine of their car. What? But the mother had expected this (or something like it), and arranged for a ride from a friend. There are very interesting gender politics at work here. Not having read many (any?) Paula Danziger is a huge hole in my reading background, and I will try to fix that in the future.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
Blubber by Judy Blume
There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom by Louis Sachar
Bettina Valentina and the Picasso Club by Niki Daly
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers

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