Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis's Year In Stuff

Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis's Year In Stuff

Jennifer L. Holm
Illustrator:  Elicia Castaldi 
Graphic Fiction
For ages 9 to 12
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012   ISBN: 978-0375868511

Ginny Davis is starting eighth grade soon, and she puts together a “Big To-do List.” The ten items on the list include saving money, joining a Vampire Vixens Den, and trying out for the cheerleading squad. Soon after school starts she does indeed join a Vampire Vixens Den, and not long after she joins the cheerleading squad.

Ginny’s school work is more demanding this year, and every Friday she has to write a poem for her language arts class. Through her freewritten poems, Ginny ends up sharing her life with her teacher. Over time Ms. Tesarowksi finds out that Ginny’s stepfather believes in family dinners, that Ginny wishes her mother would let ride her bike to school, and that Ginny’s stepfather got laid off a week before Christmas.

As the school year progresses problems seem to come pouring in. Ginny’s mother is no longer working because she is pregnant, so the bills start piling up. Ginny starts losing weight and having health problems, and then her big brother Henry gets in trouble for hacking into someone’s credit card account. The new baby arrives early and is prone to getting sick, and Ginny’s hopes to go skiing in Vermont during spring break are dashed. How can so many things go wrong in such a short period of time?

In this unique book, Jennifer L. Holm takes us into the world of an eighth grade girl not by telling her story in a straight narrative, but instead by presenting readers with a scrapbook like format. We see sticky notes, comics, computer screens, advertisement flyers and other items that together tell the story of a girl whose life is spiraling out of control. We see how her relationship with a boy in her class evolves, how she and her family members fail to see troubles before it is too late, and how Ginny does her best to do the things on her to-do lists.

Readers will be fascinated to see how one can tell a story without actually writing out a story.

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