Historical Problem Novel
LizBetty Porter doesn't want to be called by her name-- she wants to be called Possum, which is what her deceased mother called her. Even after a number of years, both Possum and her father are struggling with the death of her mother and baby sibling. Now, the local busybodies in their Depression era Appalachian community think that Possum should go to school and occasionally wear dresses. Possum does not share this opinion, and tries everything she can to get out of going to school. When she thinks that her teacher has designs on her father, her resolved strengthens, even though she has made an uneasy peace with her classmates, and has begun to realize that her schoolmates may be dealing with their own problems, even though their lives seem more pleasant than hers.
Strengths: This was a sweet tale about a salty young woman who wasn't willing to give in to the mores of her time. Supportive community, bewildered father, and a good secondary story about a classmate make this a fine choice if you need Depression Era tales or are feeling nostalgic for The Waltons.
I'm not a fan of obnoxious main characters, but know that they are often popular. Characters like the ones in The Great Gillie Hopkins or Gertie's Leap to Greatness are attractive to young readers because they exhibit behavior that is frequently frowned upon in real life and show how these actions don't always end well without the readers having to experiment with them on their own! I don't think that readers really WANT to be like Junie B. Junes, but they like to see the humor in her predicaments.
This is similar both in time period and difficulties of the protagonist to Rosengren's What the Moon Said, Golden's Every Day After, and Kinsey-Warnock's True Colors.