Bingham, Kelly. Shark Girl
Booklist Reviews 2007 May #1
Jane Arrowood wonders if she will forever be known as the "Shark Girl," who survived a shark attack on a golden California June day. A popular 15-year-old with true artistic talent and a strong circle of friends, Jane suddenly feels extraordinarily different with a prosthesis where her arm should be, and, worse, pain and itching where it used to be. Why shouldn't she feel sorry for herself? Sometimes she almost wishes that she hadn't survived. Why shouldn't she feel different? In carefully constructed, sparsely crafted free verse, Bingham's debut novel offers a strong view of a teenager struggling to survive and learn to live again. Her metaphors are authentic, visual, and lovely, and she uses spacing between words to telegraph the pauses in awkward conversations when family and friends try but fail to address the real conversation--her missing arm. It's a familiar story line written in a fresh voice, one that will be justifiably popular. ((Reviewed May 1, 2007)) Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Fall
Conversations, letters, and prose poems tell the story of fifteen-year-old artist Jane's recovery from a shark attack and adjustment to life as an amputee. We read letters from sympathizers (after a bystander's video is televised) and feel the sting of pity. Jane's slowly growing comfort with herself is realistically portrayed. Nicely drawn relationships round out the involving, affecting story. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #3
Conversations, letters, and prose poems tell the story of fifteen-year-old Jane's recovery from a shark attack and her adjustment to life as an amputee. Two newspaper articles provide the basic facts of the accident, but the remaining entries are an intimate and heartfelt narration of Jane's personal journey. On awakening from a coma, Jane struggles with pain from her missing arm and grief for her former self, especially her abilities as an artist. She is overwhelmed by flowers and gifts from strangers; a callous bystander's video of the gruesome tragedy is continually televised. We read the letters from sympathizers and fellow amputees and feel the sting of pity and high expectations that Jane feels. "Everyone wants me to be brave, / to impress them with dazzling fortitude," Jane says. "Some days, I hate everyone I see. / Even babies. / How's that for inspirational?" Once home, she is repeatedly frustrated with relearning simple tasks; much worse is the dizzying fear of embarrassment, of the stares she gets in school, at the supermarket, everywhere. Her eventual progress and growing comfort with herself is realistically portrayed. Nicely drawn relationships with family and friends round out the involving, affecting story. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
PW Reviews 2007 April #3
Written in a series of poems, letters and journal entries, Bingham's debut novel strikes a delicate balance between shock story and emotive rant, and delivers a provocative portrait of one girl's journey following a near-fatal accident. Before the attack, 15-year-old Jane's life was filled with the trappings of any normal teenage girl: trips to the mall with her girlfriends, art projects, crushes on boys at school. But when she loses her arm to a shark over the summer, Jane's life (and perspective) changes forever. She can't draw like she used to, open cans or crack eggs for dinner, or button her own pants. Everyone at school whispers about her (the pity stare is debilitating), and she has reached the breaking point when it comes to condolence letters from strangers and interview requests from reporters. Jane must find a way to move beyond her wounds—both physical and psychological. Powerful without being maudlin or preachy, the book explores hurdles that are bound to follow a physical disfigurement, and readers will come to empathize with and respect Jane for her strength and brutal honesty. They'll also appreciate the slight (but realistic) lift at the story's conclusion. Ages 12-up. (May)[Page 49]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.