Saturday, March 8, 2008

Girl Overboard

Girl Overboard
by Justina Chen Headley

Daughter of a famous and rich business guru, Syrah has a lot to live up to and as much to live down. A fall down the wrong side of a mountain may have ended her chances of becoming a professional snowboarder, and now the press thinks she is a reckless and spoiled rich girl. Her adult half-siblings, old as in the same age as her mom, couldn’t agree more. Her perfect mother thinks she is too fat, and Syrah isn’t so sure that she is wrong. And just when she most needs someone to talk to, her best friend, Age, gets back together with his hyper jealous ex-girlfriend. Syrah must meet her parents’ demands and still be true to herself while trying to recover both physically and emotionally from her fall. Uncovering a family secret may provide her with the strength and understanding that she needs to cope with the challenges she faces.

In her second novel for teens, Headley has written a multi-layered story about wealth and families set within the Asian American Culture. While Syrah’s life is going forward, the story of her snowboarding accident slowly reveals itself like the layers of an onion coming off one by one. It is as though, at first she can’t even think about what happened. Then slowly, first with a passing word or two, then scene by scene the full story comes to light. Headley handles the family histories in much the same way. Headley describes Syrah’s manga journal vividly, but it would have been fun to see some actual artwork, especially as Syrah’s progression as a character is reflected in her artwork. Also, a short author’s note about the Chinese Cultural Revolution would have been interesting after seeing through the story how this historical tragedy could continue to adversely affect families even generations after it took place. These were small complaints though. Syrah’s lively character and the family dynamics set amidst current social trends and historic tragedy combined to make this an excellent book.

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