Braced

 
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Braced
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
8+
Release Date
March 28, 2017
ISBN
978-0545907613
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Rachel Brooks is excited for the new school year. She's finally earned a place as a forward on her soccer team. Her best friends make everything fun. And she really likes Tate, and she's pretty sure he likes her back. After one last appointment with her scoliosis doctor, this will be her best year yet.

Then the doctor delivers some terrible news: The sideways curve in Rachel's spine has gotten worse, and she needs to wear a back brace 23 hours a day. The brace wraps her in hard plastic from shoulder blades to hips. It changes how her clothes fit, how she kicks a ball, and how everyone sees her -- even her friends and Tate. But as Rachel confronts all the challenges the brace presents, the biggest change of all may lie in how she sees herself.

Written by a debut author who wore a brace of her own, Braced is the inspiring, heartfelt story of a girl learning to manage the many curves life throws her way.

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5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
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Overall rating 
 
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Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
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Much Needed Update on Scoliosis

Rachel is very concerned about starting middle school and getting a good position on the soccer team. She is struggling with that fact that her mother is pregnant and her friends are not always all that nice to her. When her doctor tells her that her scoliosis is getting worse and she will have to wear a back brace 23 hours a day, she is sure that this is a horrible, horrible thing. To complicate matters, the scoliosis is genetic, and her mother wore a brace but had to have surgery to fuse her spine. This makes her even more nervous for Rachel, and stricter about enforcing the hours that Rachel has to wear the brace. Rachel goes through the typical histrionics (stopping short of the completely hysterical exploits of Blume's 1974 Deenie) about her clothing,what people will think, and how the brace will affect her soccer playing, but generally comes to terms with the limitations of the brace and how she needs to work around them. She even develops a nice romantic relationship with the understanding Tate, who even drops his best friend when he is exceptionally unkind to her.

Good Points
This is DEFINITELY a topic on which we needed an updated book, since Judy Blume's 1974 Deenie is very much out of date. I appreciated that Rachel wasn't pleased with the brace but her parents were supportive and made her wear it. The difficulties were portrayed realistically, with a healthy does of tween friend and boyfriend drama to liven things up. The fact that the mother had also been treated for scoliosis added an interesting dynamic, especially since the mother's experience had been so much more medically invasive.

Rachel's life was very privileged, and she was able to go to the mall to get all new clothes. This might seem odd to many students; I know that I wore a lot of my mother's clothing when I wore a back brace in the 1970s. In fact, most of my objections were based on my own experiences having scoliosis when I was about Rachel's age, since my experience was rather different. I guess that I just want to see several more novels on this topic so that readers can see a variety of experiences presented.

There are not as many books involving medical problems as I would live to see, so there are a lot of one sided stories. This author covers ADHD admirably in Focused, and her work is good to add to a list of books about illness that include Blake's Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World, Behar's Lucky Broken Girl, and of course, the works of Lurlene McDaniel.
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