“My mother named me Deenie because right before I was born she saw a movie about a beautiful girl named Wilmadeene, who everybody called Deenie for short."
While I thoroughly enjoyed reading one the classic coming of age stories, it was not all what I expected. To summarize for those that haven’t read it, the story follows Deenie, a typical 13-year-old girl with a crush and an overbearing mother, who is diagnosed with scoliosis. It is a (mostly) charming coming of age story – perfect for a quick and light plane or beach read. I found myself surprised at Deenie’s snarkyness, selfishness, and a little disappointed in how she reacted towards certain characters (especially at Barbara Curtis but maybe that is a personal vendetta because I have struggled with eczema too and I was like “Hey man, be nice to her! She can’t help it”). Overall, I didn’t find Deenie to be the always charming heroin one usually finds in a Judy Bloom novel. Perhaps, however, that is a more apt representation of teenage girls so kudos Ms. Bloom. Also, and apparently after doing some research this was common knowledge about the book, there is some content on masturbation that I was not expecting. For a book targeted towards pre-teen girls, I found it rather advanced. So, if you are a parent, be advised about that fact before your kid picks this one up. Who know though, maybe it will just spark some healthy dialogue.
All in all, I was glad to read this one as it didn’t make it onto my childhood reading lists. It was refreshingly light while at the same tackling some big issues of self-worth and identity. After finishing, I found myself reflecting on what I would have done if I had to wear a giant back brace in middle school. And I’ll be darned if I didn’t learn a thing or two from Deenie.