Gigi Amateau, April 2009. A Certain Strain of Peculiar features Mary Harold, a thirteen-year-old girl living with her grandmother in Wren, Alabama. This is one of those "three generations of strong Southern women" novels, with the twist that it's for middle-grade readers. By observing her grandmother (and her mother, to a lesser degree), Mary Harold learns to accept others' shortcomings and to love herself while still improving as a person. She tames a baby deer, raises a cow, and sets out to break the county record for doing the most pull-ups.
This book doesn't have any explicitly gay content. It's reviewed here because one of the drawbacks of being a loving, intense, not-ready-for-boys-yet young teenage girl is that her classmates will, and do, call her a dyke. (She may even be one; there is no first hetero love scene at the end.) The author handles this nicely; Mary Harold rejects the notion that she is gay without feeling insulted by the very idea.
I didn't love this novel personally - it's a little too preachy and has just a touch of magic realism, which I loathe - but it's a nice bridge from juvenile chapter books into YA fiction, and Mary Harold is a good role model for girls her age.
BIG CHANGES AFOOT.
2 years ago