Jasmine and Maddie

Jasmine and Maddie - Christine Pakkala Release Date: April 1, 2014
ARC received from Boyds Mill Press at ALA Midwinter
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Jasmine just moved to town and lives in a trailer park, which she finds super embarrassing. Maddie lives in a large house with a big family where she is not as perfect as her older sister who sets the ideal example in her home. When Jasmine starts the eighth grade at their small Connecticut school all the popular girls just flock to Jasmine. Maddie however, has one good friend who is usually too busy to hang out with her, which makes Maddie jealous of how easily Jasmine has blended into their school. Jasmine is sympathetic of Maddie’s awkwardness, but not sympathetic enough to not steal from her because she is more affluent than Jasmine. Jasmine liked to think of it as Robin Hood stealing from the rich, and all she wants to do is help her mom pay the bills.

This is a story about friendship and coming of age trials told in alternating perspectives between Jasmine and Maddie. This is a very realistic portrayal of the middle school ups and downs girls have and how everyone feels awkward about something, be it where they live, how they live, how they dress, who likes or doesn’t like whom, etc. Just because Maddie lives in a big house and her family has a decent amount of money, doesn’t mean she is automatically happy. Jasmine is going through some sad times after the loss of her father and we see the state of her family grieving and the problems of other families in her trailer park.

The two girl’s stories are united by poetry assignments in their English class. We get to read the poems they are studying and the poems they are writing and see some true emotional outpouring. The book climaxes with a Poetry Café at the end of the book where all their grieving and frustration can be read aloud. This is a quick, light read for middle-readers that young adults will also enjoy because of the timelessness of feeling so emotionally raw. A highly recommended realistic fiction read.