Big Mouth and Ugly Girl

Review From User :

Give this book to every tween and teen you know. Adults, you should read it too. It's a fast read, a day or two at most, and the pages are filled with a sparse, honest prose that creates two characters who somehow manage to be outcasts and everygirl/boy at the same time. You know that teenage experience of feeling totally alone and different from everyone around you but then as an adult you realize everyone was feeling that way and so you were all actually together in that aloneness This book explores that experience with kindness and sympathy. It's a book I wish I'd had at that age. Ugly Girl is accepted by some and rejected by most at her school, but her awesomeness is readily apparent to readers, and that's not because this book carries the trite, ham-fisted message to be nice to the outcasts, they are people too! It's because Joyce Carol Oates is so skilled at laying out the intricacies of Ugly Girl's personality in a subtle and truthful way -- from her fierce devotion to doing the right thing to her shaky, but deep confidence despite an outward uncertainty. Please read it, and remember that the teenagers you know have inner lives just as complex as any adult.

Ever make a stupid comment or joke, or say something you obviously didn’t mean? Of course you have – we all have. Was it ever taken out of context?
Expand text… Written in the wake of some highly publicized school shootings, Big Mouth & Ugly Girl takes a look at the shock waves that emanate from an overheard comment muttered in sarcasm, and the overzealous reaction of the school and surrounding community that follows.

High school junior Matt Donaghy is considered an okay guy. He gets good grades, writes for the school paper, is in the Drama Club, and is known for his witty, if immature, humor. Students and teachers seem to like him. But one day he says something that makes a few classmates think he’s out to bomb the school. The school principal is notified, the police are called in, and rumors are abuzz. Even his buddies doubt his innocence, and none of the guys come forward in his defense. There is, however, someone else who overheard Matt’s statement and understood his mocking intent. School renegade Ursula Riggs, or “Ugly Girl” as she refers to herself, doesn’t know Matt very well but reveals what she heard and the context in which it was said – even though her parents instruct her to mind her own business. But even if Ursula can help Matt clear up this misunderstanding, will life at Rocky River High School ever be the same again?

In her first novel for young adults, acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates delivers a striking story about friendship, family, community, support, betrayal, and self-confidence. This powerful novel makes us think carefully about what we say, to whom we say it, and what we mean. After closing this book, you’ll ask yourself the same question I did: What if I’d said such a thing?

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