Book Review: Freak by Marcella Pixley

Freak by Marcella Pixley

Title: Freak

Author: Marcella Pixley

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction

Number of Pages: 131

Rating: B+

Recommended?: Yes

Miriam and her sister Deborah used to be best friends, but now Deborah barely acknowledges her. It’s a tale as old as time; one sister is stunningly beautiful and has boys flocking to her like geese, the other is an unattractive nerd who’s intensely jealous of how easy things seem to be for her sibling. The way this book is written though, the characters are complex and things don’t pan out the way you’d expect. Everything starts to fall apart in Miriam’s life when a boy named Artie comes to stay with her family. Miriam is obsessed (in a borderline creepy way) with Artie but who does he show interest in? Her sister, of course.

Meanwhile, socially awkward Miriam is being bullied in school and Deborah just doesn’t want to be embarrassed by her. The bullying gets worse and worse and Miriam doesn’t feel like she can confide in her self-centered parents. You can tell right away that the girls’ parents treat Deborah like crap, Miriam is the ‘brilliant one.’ Miriam is so strange and off-putting that I found myself disliking her at times even though she’s the main character and a constant victim of mistreatment. Don’t get me wrong, I thought she was terrifically written character.

She’s very flawed and sometimes you find yourself sympathizing with Deborah, her objectively awful sister. The shifting character dynamics are what elevate this book above your average teen angst story. You never know quite what to expect from the characters because of they’re raw and complex and real. Miriam is a little bit of a ‘I’m not like other girls’ character but you can see so clearly in her case that it’s a defense mechanism. The only thing I didn’t really like about this book (and the reason I didn’t bump the rating up to A) was the ending. I felt like it was contrived and the only truly weak spot in an emotional gut-punch of a young adult novel.

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