I’m continuing my trek through Middle Grade sadness, but this time feels different.
Yes, there is plenty to pull you down here: An almost sightless MC, a depressed mother, an angry older brother, and a father wrapped up in his new job. This family’s move from Washington to South Carolina has not been easy.
Thankfully, for readers (especially this one reading it before the holidays) there is hopeful optimism sprinkled on the pages. Young Alice makes a great narrator as we follow her struggles to fit in a new place that she can barely see or maneuver. At first she hates her new town, but soon realizes its many charms and history. A joyous ride for redemption and understanding.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2015 PAGE COUNT: 246
FULL PLOT (From Amazon): Before Stinkville, Alice didn’t think albinism—or the blindness that goes with it—was a big deal. Sure, she uses a magnifier to read books. And a cane keeps her from bruising her hips on tables. Putting on sunscreen and always wearing a hat are just part of life. But life has always been like this for Alice. Until Stinkville.
For the first time in her life, Alice feels different—like she’s at a disadvantage. Back in her old neighborhood in Seattle, everyone knew Alice, and Alice knew her way around. In Stinkville, Alice finds herself floundering—she can’t even get to the library on her own. But when her parents start looking into schools for the blind, Alice takes a stand. She’s going to show them—and herself—that blindness is just a part of who she is, not all that she can be. To prove it, Alice enters the Stinkville Success Stories essay contest. No one, not even her new friend Kerica, believes she can scout out her new town’s stories and write the essay by herself. The funny thing is, as Alice confronts her own blindness, everyone else seems to see her for the first time.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: A BLIND GUIDE TO STINKVILLE by Beth Vrabel
- The thread of a writing contest for young residents of Sinkville (Yes, that’s the true name of the town) is a wonderful string winding its way through the story providing new insights for Alice and her friends.
- This story could very well have been the next Middle Grade soap opera tale, but the author keeps everything in check as Alice fights the town’s perceptions of her looks and blindness. She does so with humor and a matter of fact persona.
- A character with albinism is a rarity in the MG world. Alice’s words provide an accurate and hopeful spin to blindness that will have both seeing and sightless readers cheering. (Note: An audible version was recently released)
- A boy, Ryder, only appears in one chapter near the end. Secondary characters can make a difference and Ryder’s tour with Alice through the school for blind students she might attend is a real eye opener. It’s funny and heartbreaking and so important to making this story complete.
- The middle grade way of thinking is expertly portrayed through our visit to the mind of Alice. She carries all the confusions and insecurities of an 12 year old.
FAVORITE LINES: I tried not to glare at the way her jaw popped open. “Are you, like, okay?” she said to me. To Eliza, she said, “Is she sick?”
Eliza’s cheeks flushed. She laughed. “No, this is Alice. She lived in your house. She’s just sort of pale.”
AUTHOR QUOTE: “…Everybody faces challenges. Everyone has a story. But your story is so much more than just your challenges.”
Read Beth’s entire touching letter to her readers.
Also visit Bethvrabel.com
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. The comments link is under the title of this post.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.
That’s a great letter about her ten-year-old self and how everyone faces challenges. I’ve heard of this book but haven’t read it. Another title to add to the TBR list. Thank you!
As you probably guessed, this is my kind of story. I have never read a book of fiction with a protagonist with albinism. It certainly is a story about determination and ability.
Yes, you would love this one. The MC is memorable and the story is well plotted.
Hopeful optimism. We need much more of that in middle grade literature! I liked this more than I thought I would, but she almost lost me at the end with the dog being sick. Just a bit TOO much for one story!
I’m getting downright depressed myself reading these sad titles. Makes me glad to be going a different direction with my writing.
This is an unusual topic for MG, but I like the unusual, so I’m likely to take a look. It will be interesting to see how kids related to it.
Probably more girls than boys will take a look, though the story is appealing for all.
This sounds good. I have two friends who married, had two albino kids who weren’t blind but were very nearsighted. They moved to a small mountain town in Tennessee and the community seemed to rally around the family and support them. (the husband was the beloved rector of the local Episcopal church) Both kids are now grown, married, and have kids of their own. Both of them are very accomplished in a lot of areas and one still lives in that mountain community.
Great story… I’m glad the community rallied around them and are both doing well.
What an interesting premise for a book. Thanks for telling me about this one. I hadn’t heard of it. I will put it on my TBR list.
You would enjoy this one, Rosi!
I’ve heard good things about this one. What an interesting choice for a main character.
This sounds really quite good and one I can think several (more than, actually) I would pass this along to. Thanks for sharing it.
Thank you for this beautiful review!
Also, Greg, I’m glad you enjoyed meeting Ryder. He gets his own book–A Blind Guide to Normal–this October. 😉
Great news, Beth. Ryder had me hooked from the first page he was introduced. Can’t wait for his story!