Thursday, April 14, 2011

Book Review: Grounded

I am a huge fan of books by Kate and Sarah Klise. They always deliver funny, punny books sure to amuse young readers. Thus, I was thrilled when I happened to notice a new Kate Klise book at the library. Just reading the back cover should have prepared me though, because this, while both funny and punny in spots, is clearly a more serious novel.

Grounded, tells the tale of 12 year old Daralynn Oakland, who is only alive because she was grounded. Otherwise, she would have been in the plane with her father, older brother and little sister, when it fell from the sky. Instead, she is grounded in her house with her mother, who cannot cry, and 237 dolls, foisted on her in sympathy.

While the beginning details of the novel were clearly realistic (the girl is nicknamed Dolly, though she doesn't even like dolls; her life falls into two categories - BC, before the crash and AD, after the deaths; her mother is styling hair at the funeral home to help meet expenses), I just couldn't get into it for some reason. I don't know. It felt stilted ... forced. Although it flowed, it didn't fully engage.

By page 100, I felt more connected to the main character and began to appreciate the novel as fully as I had expected. I loved how Klise used the double meaning of the word grounded. On the one hand, misbehavior caused Daralynn to be grounded and, thus, still among the living. But, on the other hand, her very existence serves to keep her mother grounded when so much of life is up in the air and out of control.

My final impressions of the book were entirely positive. This would be a great novel to suggest to a young person dealing with grief or loss. While treating the truly painful aspects of the grieving process, it provides humor and poignant truth.

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