I have a special affection for books where the character is bullied. If you remember, I reviewed King Dork and Nineteen Minutes and liked both. Of course, the love affair of bullying books began with my first encounter with Blubber by Judy Blume. Remember Blubber? They picked on the fat girl, the nice girl stood up for the fat girl, and then the nice girl got bullied, too.
This affection stems from the fact that I have been both the victim and giver (only once) of the bullying. It's a universal thing that happens to everyone at one point or another. Isn't it interesting that the victims of bullying usually end up being amazing people. They just happen to not conform to the usual patterns of other kids. And the bully ends up having problems of their own.
Miriam is known by many names. Her parents call her Miriam. Her friends, Artie and Rosie, call her Shakespeare because of her dramatic presence. But the kids at school call her Freak. Why? For the usual non-reasons bullies have. She doesn't have breasts yet. Her nose is too big. She journals. She likes Shakespeare. All together, the cumulative points of Miriam make her a freak.
She gets bullied by a triumvirate of popular, pretty girls that smell like watermelon. In addition, Artie, the crush of Miriam's life has moved in with their family while his parents are on sabbatical. And Artie is getting hot and heavy with Miriam's older sister.
It's pretty standard bullying fare, but I still liked it, mostly because of Miriam's character. She is the kind of girl that will rock the world someday, but she is in that middle stage which is so painful. You know by the end of the book that if Miriam was older and not in the ugly middle school phase of her body, it would be a no-brainer who Artie would like.
Recommended for grades 6-8.