by Alyson Gerber
published by Scholastic
The first contemporary novel about a disorder that bends the lives of ten percent of all teenagers: scoliosis.
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 twenty-three 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.
My Quick Thoughts
It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I would be excited about this book. A book that has a middle grader facing a physical challenge in a realistic light? I'm all over that. As a parent of a middle grader who has faced her entire life with a physical challenge and knows that there are ups and downs, but you hope the ups outweigh the downs - yeah, I'm glad this book came around.
What I loved about this book is it came from an important place - the author has had these experiences, she's writing about what she knows - which means it's written from the heart. Gerber writes so realistically - because there really are ups and downs with any type of disability. And this book is a very realistic middle grade novel. I love how the main character has a sport that means so much to her. That she works so hard at it. I love that middle grade friendship and how they change on a minute by minute basis are explored. The trio of friends were so realistic, I know readers will feel comfortable with them. And, the middle grade romance.... I'm not going to spoil anything but I like the way Gerber took everything.
When I got this book at NCTE, I came home and told my daughter about it. When she was ready to start a new book, she asked me specifically for it. To me, that means she was looking forward to reading a book that she sees as a mirror. There are not many books out there with a character who has a physical disability. I'm glad this one was available for her. I've asked her to share some thoughts below.
Speaking of mirror books, I think this will also be window book. A book that might help others get an idea of what having a disability, or something different, is like, how talking about it, asking questions, may be more helpful.
A middle grade reader's thoughts (aka my daughter who has a physical disability)
I liked Braced because it was about bravery and courage to do anything even with a brace or a disability. I loved how even though Rachel had a tough time, she pushed through it and survived!
You should buy this book because it is such a heartfelt story and I felt like it was a true story. In the book, Rachel has to wear a back brace, and I thought that it was amazing that even though she had one, she made it through life and still did her favorite sport, soccer. It was an amazing book and I loved it.
Hope a copy of this amazing book finds its way into your library. Don't just take it from me, take it from a reader who sees herself in this book!