Review Detail

Timely Family Problems
(Updated: May 13, 2020)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Lydia lives in an apartment in New York with her mom and her cousin, Emma. Emma's mother, who was African-American, passed away and her father, who is white, is considered "unsafe", so Emma feels that this is just a temporary placement. Lydia's dad lives nearby and has visitation two days a week, and her mother has a boyfriend, Jeremy. When the mother buys a dilapidated house to fix up, she doesn't tell Jeremy about it. Lydia finds the house deliciously creepy, and does a lot of work on it to help her mother out, but Emma doesn't help because she claims she will never have to live there. The house is just a few blocks from the apartment, so the girls can continue on at their Catholic school. This, however, is a problem for Lydia. In 6th grade, the boys started calling her "Swing" because of the way her skirts moves over her legs, and have subjected her to pointed stares and unwanted comments. The teachers don't take any of her concerns seriously. Lydia also feels uncomfortable around Jeremy,who hugs a second too long, brings the girls candy they are supposed to keep secret from the mother, and generally makes Lydia feel creeped out. To deal with both of these issues, she has taken to wearing baggy sweatpants and shirts even though it is summer vacation. Once, when Emma and her mother go to visit Emma's father, Lydia is supposed to stay with Jeremy. Her father is too busy to watch her, so she calls Miriam, a former best friend with whom she has had a falling out. Miriam invites Lydia over for a sleep over, and the two slowly reconnect. While renovating the house, Lydia finds a "spell book" and empty toilet paper rolls in every room of the house. The writer of the book, Pan, details a number of spells, including one for protection, that involve flowers, scented oils, and wearing the toilet roll under ones clothing. Lydia is sure that this is working, but still panics from time to time. When a boy at school snaps her bra strap, Lydia snaps as well, screaming in the middle of class. She's sent to the principal's office and hopes that her complaints will finally be heard, but instead, the nun accuses Lydia of bringing the devil and magic into the school, because of the toilet paper rolls. Lydia gets in trouble at home, and this, along with support from Miriam and Emma, is finally enough to get her to tell her mother about what is going on at school and with Jeremy.
Good Points
Like Dee's Maybe He Just Likes You, this is realistically done. Lydia's experiences of being harassed, sharing limited information with adults, being rebuffed, and then spiraling into a very bad place make sense. Jeremy is creepy but doesn't actually step over any real lines until the end of the story, and Emma feels the same way. Once the mother finds out about both issues, she supports Lydia completely. Emma's father is in rehab for drugs, and her emotions about not wanting to become invested in the house ring true. The house itself is quirkily interesting, and the protective spells will certainly speak to readers who are Lydia's age.

I was a little surprised that the mother hadn't picked up on Lydia's plight earlier, since she later shares that she was accosted by a relative when young, and surprised that the school didn't take things more seriously. I also would have like a bit more information about the principal's family connection to Lydia's house.

Books like this are important to show them that they need to do this in order for things to change. Lydia's experiences will help readers understand how insidious harrassment can be, but also give them tools to help in case they ever experience it themselves. It's sad that these issues still exist, but they do. Even twenty years ago, I told my daughters that no one was allowed to make them feel uncomfortable and that I would support them if anyone did; this kind of empowerment needs to filter into every section of the population, and books like this can help that happen.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Book three in a hilarious new series featuring one boy...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Everything starts with a question, like this one: Why do...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Worries, fears, and anxieties are all dragons that sneak up...
The Copycat
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A funny, unpredictable, and heartfelt new novel from Wendy McLeod...
DC Super Hero Girls: Powerless
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The DC Super Hero Girls learn what it's like to...
Paola Santiago and the River of Tears
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma...
Clown in a Cornfield
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Quinn Maybrook just wants to make it until graduation. She...
The Oracle Code
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp (This...
Rival Magic
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A young wizard's apprentice discovers that the best magic is...
Deeplight
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea meets Frankenstein in Frances...
The Girl and the Ghost
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Malaysian folk tale comes to life in this emotionally...
Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In this companion to the award-winning Izzy Gizmo, Izzy Gizmo...
The Welcome Wagon
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
In Cubby Hill, someone new is someone to celebrate!In a...
Once Upon a Crime: Batman Tales
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Gotham City is filled with stories--of heroes and of villains,...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
With Joanie Stone's colorful illustrations and Allison Crotzer Kimmel's inspirational...
Cracked Up To Be
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
The high price of perfection is one 'Perfect' Parker Fadley...

Latest Member Reviews

Not Another Love Song
 
5.0
"Different than I was expecting - and that’s a good thing! The story: All..."
Jo & Laurie
 
3.3
"Jo March is surprised at how well her novel LITTLE WOMEN has done. Now her publisher and readers want a..."
An Enchantment of Ravens
 
2.3
"I'm not very into reading fantasy (so I might not be the best person to review this). But I was..."
Cracked Up To Be
 
3.7
"Cracked up to be is an unsettling tale of a girl on the cusp of a mental breakdown for over..."
The Morning Flower (The Omte Origins, #2)
 
4.0
"THE MORNING FLOWER continues the OMTE ORIGINS story as Ulla continues to search for her heritage and for the missing..."
None of the Above
 
4.3
"This is one of those books that a reader can learn from. This is the first YA book that I..."
The Lost City (The Omte Origins, #1)
 
4.3
"THE LOST CITY is a highly engaging YA fantasy read about Ulla, a troll. Trolls are secretive creatures who live..."
Layoverland
 
5.0
"'Layoverland' by Gabby Noone, despite being about a teenager who has died, ironically creates a very inviting atmosphere for readers..."
Summer and July
 
5.0
"'Summer and July' by Paul Mosier is a beautifully written story perfect for summer reading. Readers will find themselves immersed..."
A Wicked Magic
 
4.0
"Friends Dan and Liss find a Black book of magic and try a spell. Only the spell goes terribly..."
Scarlet Odyssey
 
3.3
"SCARLET ODYSSEY is a high fantasy that takes place in a world at war. Men are often raised to be..."
Tigers, Not Daughters
 
5.0
"TIGERS, NOT DAUGHTERS is a lyrical book of sisterhood and grief. The Torres sisters had tried to escape their father..."
Tyler Johnson Was Here
 
4.0
"The fallout and protests following police choking George Floyd to death in Minnesota has consumed social media for the last..."
when you were everything
 
4.3
"WHEN YOU WERE EVERYTHING by Ashley Woodfolk is a YA Contemporary novel told in two timelines, “then” and “now.” The..."
Path of Night (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, #3)
 
5.0
"PATH OF NIGHT is another great installment of the books based on the Netflix show, CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA. This..."
Unravel the Dusk (The Blood of Stars, #2)
 
5.0
"UNRAVEL THE DUSK is an enchanting sequel and finale to a unique YA fantasy. Maia is a tailor who dreamed..."
Sisters of Sword and Song
 
4.3
"SISTERS OF SWORD AND SONG is an enchanting and lush YA fantasy. The story follows two sisters, Halcyon and Evadne,..."
Straight On Till Morning: A Twisted Tale #8
 
3.7
"Straight on Till Morning is part of “A Twisted Tale” series, a multi author series of fairytale retellings created by..."
Faith Taking Flight
 
5.0
"Sixteen-year-old Faith Herbert has a secret. She can fly. When she runs into her fangirl crush Dakota, star of the..."
Honor Bound (The Honors, #2)
 
5.0
"HONOR BOUND is an electrifying and thrilling YA sci-fi sequel. Zara, Beatriz, and Nadim are on the run from an..."