Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 291
Exceptional representation of trauma in childhood
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
N/A
Characters
 
N/A
Writing Style
 
N/A
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Robber Girl wants to help Gentleman Jack get his gold and live with him and Grandmother. When they attempt to take the gold, however, it ends up being a trap. Gentleman Jack is arrested, and Robber Girl is taken into the Judge’s custody. Robber Girl, now called Starling, has a dagger that keeps her on edge and reminds her to stay focused on the mission to help Gentleman Jack, even if she’s starting to get used to the Judge’s cottage and the beautiful dollhouse in the attack. As Starling is confronted with choices to either help Gentleman Jack or maybe find a home at the cottage, she slowly begins to remember a time before Gentleman Jack.

3 reasons to read ROBBER GIRL:

1.) Representation of trauma: Starling is only 10 or 11, but she’s lived through a lot. When the story starts, we only know that she’s been with Gentleman Jack for a few years after supposedly being abandoned on the highway. As the story continues, we get building details that suggest things are perhaps not what Starling believes (or forces herself to believe) and that Gentleman Jack has conditioned her to trust a specific narrative. When Starling begins to feel like the Judge’s family and the cottage might be home, it’s easy to understand why she resists or acts out. The representation of trauma is exceptional and realistic.

2.) Strong voice: Starling’s narration can be a little jarring as she goes in and out of her trauma responses, but Franny Billingsley pulls it off. The sentences are crisp and sharp, and I especially like the way the dagger’s voice is integrated.

3.) Unique world: Starling’s world is mostly recognizable, but there is an added mythology about a Seventh Sister Star and Blue Roses that creates a level of uniqueness. I loved all the details around the Seventh Sister and how the town had special festivals and traditions around it.

Franny Billingsley’s THE ROBBERT GIRL takes a frank, head-on look at trauma in a young girl and weaves a story of finding a home and growing with love.
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