A Blind Guide to Stinkville

A Blind Guide to Stinkville

Featured
 
4.5 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
1837   0
Write Review
A Blind Guide to Stinkville
Author(s)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
October 13, 2015
ISBN
9781634501576
Buy This Book
      

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. This is a stirring small-town story that explores many different issues—albinism, blindness, depression, dyslexia, growing old, and more—with a light touch and lots of heart. Beth Vrabel’s characters are complicated and messy, but they come together in a story about the strength of community and friendship.

Editor reviews

2 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.5  (2)
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A  (0)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A

Modern day answer to Light a Single Candle

Alice is not happy that her family has moved from cloudy Washington state to Sinkville, a Southern town where her father is the manager of the local paper plant that gives the town its distinctive stink. Her father is busy, her mother is depressed, and she needs a ton of sunscreen. It also doesn't help that "back home" everyone knew that Alice had vision difficulties because of her alibinism, and in the new town, she finds herself constantly having to explain. She meets Kerica at the town library and is glad to have a new friend, especially since her old best friend is moving on with her life. Alice is less thrilled with Sandi, who also spends a lot of time in the library. Alice has a lot of trouble navigating the new town by herself, and her brother James has found other places to be, so Alice takes her dog, Tooter, many places with her, pretending he is her guide dog. There is a town writing contest about success stories in the town, and Alice manages to find a lot of them while trying to find her place in the town. She's particularly fond of elderly whittler Mr. Hamlin and gets to know diner owner Gretel and learns about the town's involvement in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s from Mayor Hank. Alice also tries to help her mother, a former photojournalist, snap out of her depression by showing her the town that Alice is coming to enjoy. There are further complications involving Tooter's health and Alice's school placement, but in the end, things turn out fairly well.

This book has a lot packed into it. A lawsuit, dog health problems AND a mental health breakdown for the mother? That's a lot to address in one book, although the length is still very manageable. While kids will find the issues of moving and blindness to be intriguing, I think that few of them really want to read about the depression of a parent.

Good Points
This was a hopeful book about a middle grade student managing her diverse abilities with a small but devoted support system. Alice feels sorry for herself sometimes, like all middle grade students do, but also wants to show her parents how she can take care of herself. The community is vibrantly drawn and the setting, as well as the town's involvement in the Civil Rights movement, adds a lot to the story. Despite the sad parts, I enjoyed this, and there are certainly characters that represent many different groups of varying interests and abilities.
Was this review helpful to you? 
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A

Top Marks for A BLIND GUIDE

This book is packed with laughter, courage, and friendship from the first page until the last. Alice has just relocated to Sinkville, SC from her cloudy home in Seattle. Her dad has a new job at the local paper mill; her mom has locked herself away in her room, and her brother James keeps running off to the lake, leaving Alice behind. Being born with Albinism and Nystagmus, Alice is legally blind. Legally, but not completely. The only place she can get to and from (with the help of her old dog Tooter) is the library.
It isn’t until Alice’s mom tells her that she’s going to go to a special school for the blind that Alice decides she needs to learn how to be independent (and not different). Entering the town’s "Sinkville Success Stories" contest feels like the perfect way to start. What begins as a way for Alice to learn the layout of her new home ends up being the perfect way for her to make new friends and find her own voice.

What I loved about this book was the way Beth Vrabel handled her diverse characters. While Alice is indeed the main character, there were so many wonderful side stories that Alice captured in her journey to discover Sinkville. People had their own voice, triumphs and struggles.

One of my favorite characters was Alice’s mom. She struggles with depression throughout the book, but rather than avoid talking about her mental illness, the entire family has many discussions about depression, how it manifests, and how it isn’t a quick fix. Their mom is honest about her struggle, and in turn, both Alice and her brother James are able to be honest and open about their anger and fear as they watch their mom battle depression. This is probably one of the healthiest books I’ve ever read when it comes to families talking about their feelings with one another. It was beautiful to witness.

Depression and Albinism are just a few of the things that stand out in this book; there is also a great scene that includes a discussion of Sinkville’s part in the Civil Rights movement. Alice’s best friend Kerica is able to express how she still feels the effect of looking different in a small town. The town comes together to remind everyone that Sinkville is proud of its history supporting all people and offering a safe place for everyone, no matter what they look like.

That’s the beautiful thing about this book: everyone feels like they are too different to have a “home.” By naming and discussing their feelings and struggles, Alice and her friends don’t feel so alone and they’re able to make Sinkville a little bit more like home they'd hoped for.

There were some points where the plot seemed to jump ahead and skip some important details, but the gaps were eventually filled in as the story went along. The humor in this book is nothing short of wonderful, and both Alice and Kerica have that preteen sensibility that makes this book shine.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has felt alone and different. Alice’s story is a powerful example that our differences can make us stronger and that friendships and family can grow into something unexpectedly beautiful.

Was this review helpful to you? 

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

51uDXTa8hxL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Celebrate the weird, wonderful, and the downright bizarre in this...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
The Next to Last Mistake
Tess Goodwin's life in rural Iowa is sheltered and uncomplicated....
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Pretty in Punxsutawney
A Groundhog Day meets Pretty in Pink mashup from author...
 
5.0
 
4.7 (1)
Emerge: The Captive: (Book 3)
A moment of distraction has cost him his freedom...
 
5.0
 
5.0 (1)
Awakening of Fire (Dragon Born, #1)
Dragons are just legends from the past... Felicia’s life...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Penderwicks at Last
The finale you've all been waiting for: The Penderwicks...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Over Raging Tides
The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Positively Izzy
Award-winning comics creator and author of the bestselling Invisible...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Onyx and Ivory
They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Dysasters
P.C. and Kristin Cast, the #1 New York Times bestselling...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
The Fontre | Best Books for Young Adults | YA Fiction New Release | Julien Jamar
Cassai is taken by Devilan, knowing she will be forced...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
You'd Be Mine
Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country...
 
4.0
 
4.0 (1)
99 Lies (100 Hours, #2)
Getting kidnapped over spring break was definitely memorable. But now...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Wings of Olympus
Take flight with Pippa and her winged horse in this...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
"FIVE STARS for one of the most peculiar high school...
 
0.0
 
5.0 (13)
Ocean Renegades! (Earth Before Us #2): Journey through the Paleozoic Era
When Ronnie’s parents go on a business trip and leave...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1)
 
4.0
""Forest of a Thousand Lanterns" was a slow-building and dark YA fantasy. Xifeng has been raised by her cruel aunt..."
The Next to Last Mistake
 
5.0
"'The Next to Last Mistake' by Amalie Jahn will have readers considering their own lives through a bittersweet lens as..."
Pretty in Punxsutawney
 
4.7
"Thank you to Blink and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy for my honest review. As..."
Pretty in Punxsutawney
 
5.0
"Andie moves to Punxsutawney P.A. before the beginning of her senior year. When she falls asleep watching 'Pretty in Pink',..."
Rogue (Talon #2)
 
4.3
"More dragons, what more could you want? Julie has done it again, not only has she written another fantastic..."
The Dysasters
 
3.7
"THE DYSASTERS opens up with Foster and her stepmom Cora on the run and have been for a full year...."
You'd Be Mine
 
4.0
""You'd Be Mine" follows two young country music stars on their path to self-discovery, dealing with past family deaths, and..."
You'd Be Mine
 
4.0
"YOU’D BE MINE by Erin Hahn is a YA contemporary romance set in the confines of country music, road life,..."
99 Lies (100 Hours, #2)
 
4.3
"99 lies pick up exactly where the last book left off, post-kidnapping—at least for most of them. Genesis and Holden..."
Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss
 
4.0
"When Lacey scores a leading role in a zombie movie, she wants to give it her all. However, she struggles..."
Stolen Time
 
3.0
"STOLEN TIME by Danielle Rollins is the first book of a YA time travel trilogy. It begins when Ash, a..."
Their Fractured Light (Starbound #3)
 
4.0
""Their Fractured Light" is a satisfying conclusion to the Starbound trilogy. Each book has followed a different couple along a..."
Only A Breath Apart
 
4.0
"ONLY A BREATH APART alternates POV between Jesse and Scarlett. The two of them used to be best friends as..."
Give The Dark My Love
 
5.0
""Give the Dark My Love" is a dark but engaging YA fantasy. Told in alternating perspectives, we follow two characters-..."
Give The Dark My Love
 
5.0
"Seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her small village to study medicinal alchemy at the famous Yugen Academy. She wants to be..."
A Sky for Us Alone
 
3.3
"A SKY FOR US ALONE by Kristin Russell is a YA coming-of-age novel filled with mystery and heartache. It’s set..."
The Disturbed Girl's Dictionary
 
4.0
"The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary is as disturbing as its name implies. While, in an effort to not trivialize or..."
Easy Prey
 
3.3
"Easy prey’s story is directly relevant to its title. It tells the story of how when you prey on others,..."
Love, Life, and the List
 
4.3
"Abby's goal in life is to become a serious artist. Her hope is to get into a special art camp...."
The Incredible True Story of the Making of the Eve of Destruction
 
3.0
"It's 1984 and Laura Ratliff is a high school student with issues beyond a typical sixteen-year-old. Her mom and her..."