Publishers Weekly Review
Fifteen-year-old Macy Cashmere is emotionally disturbed, at least according to her school, teachers, and family. But her life is heartbreakingly difficult-her father is in prison, her brother was taken away by Child Protective Services, and her mother is involving herself with a string of abusive men who make occasional passes at Macy. She has just two friends: honor student Alma, who hopes that school will save her, and George, who wears a helmet due to an injury sustained after the brutal murder of his sister. Macy's story is told as a series of vignettes, each framed by a word in Macy's "dictionary" ("Answer. Noun. Example: 'Ahnsuh me, bitch!'") with a tenuous narrative thread. Debut author Ramos shows Macy navigating the difficulties of school and home while plagued by deaths, threats to her safety, and a constant, nagging hunger. Ramos makes effective use of vernacular to channel Macy's anger, anguish, and sharp-edged perspective in a disturbing but empathetic portrait of life as a child in poverty. Ages 14-up. Agent: Emily Keyes, Fuse Literary. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-Fifteen-year-old Puerto Rican Macy Cashmere keeps a personal journal in dictionary format which gives readers insight into the mind of a teen disappointed by her urban environment and most of the adults in her life. Labeled "disturbed" by the school system, she lives in constant hunger, sleeping in the bathtub to avoid uncomfortable events in the rest of her apartment. She clings to her relationship with her "bestie," a beautiful, intelligent young Latina going through her own family traumas, together with their friend George, who, despite his own challenges, serves as a stabilizing force. Teacher Mrs. Black is the singular adult who seems to provide deep acceptance, caring, and timely words of encouragement. Intra-textual references between dictionary entries provide clues about past and future events until they meet in real time at the plot's climax. This complex story of love and loss can lead to insightful discussions about the problematic label of "disturbed." The book concludes with some hope but not a complete resolution which makes it realistic in a lingering way. While this text includes strong language, the use of inventive spelling to defy school grammar, and content suitable for older readers, it may provide students with similar life experiences from an identifiable protagonist and serve as a catalyst for critical educator-facilitated discussions. VERDICT Purchase where Isabel Quintero's Gabi, a Girl in Pieces is popular.-Ruth Quiroa, National Louis University, Lisle, IL © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* The events that led to Macy Cashmere's stay in a mental institution unfold through mostly alphabetically arranged dictionary entries that piece together a harrowing and ultimately empowering story of survival. Macy's dad is in prison, her mother flits from one so-called boyfriend to another, and her little brother, Zane, is in foster care, after Child Protective Services was tipped off by neighbors. But Macy's primary concern is that her best friend, Alma, is uncharacteristically withdrawn. Ramos presents the raw, real voice of a fiercely protective and determined young woman who eventually takes up her grandmother's machete to protect herself and her friend, an act that lands her in the institution. Like Sapphire's Push (1996), it's almost too much at times or would be if it weren't so believable. The dictionary format and nonlinear exposition work beautifully to slowly reveal the reasons for Macy's actions, while her wry humor and sharp tongue leaven the first-person narrative. An ambiguous but realistic conclusion will provoke discussion. Ramos is a voice to watch; her exceptional writing and compassionate realism will draw many readers, not just fans of urban fiction.--Carton, Debbie Copyright 2017 Booklist