Bold young adult novel probes deeply into the psyche of troubled teen

Rosie Girl, by Julie Shepard. Putnam. 384 pages. Trade paperback $17.99.

Once again, I’m shaken by a young adult novel. It’s filled with cruelty, suffering, determination, and decisions that shouldn’t have to be made by someone just emerging from childhood. Rosie is seventeen as we meet her. She turns eighteen about the same time she graduates from high school. She seems isolated, left to fend for herself in a household in which her abusive stepmother displays no parenting skills – only an interest in hurting and manipulating Rosie. 

It’s clear that the responsibility she took on many years back – to care for Rosie – has been in the way of Lucy’s needs. Lucy doesn’t want to deal with her boyfriend Judd’s crude advances toward Rosie. When she married Rosie’s father, Lucy made a deal that would have a substantial payoff. She doesn’t want to rock the boat that is sailing to that payoff, perfectly timed for Lucy’s freedom from “parenting” Rosie.

Rosie is also fighting the humiliation of ex-boyfriend Ray’s unwillingness to respect her wishes. She is not ready to have sex with him, and this stance has sent him looking elsewhere.

Rosie leans on her best – and pretty much her only – friend: Mary. Mary is extremely supportive and understanding, perhaps because she too is striving to survive a dysfunctional family. Both girls want to get away from their dismal home situations, save up some money, get out of town, and move on with their lives. Rosie is considering studying fashion design, but how can she pay for it?

Julie Shepard

The girls have worked out a plan in which Rosie is essentially Mary’s pimp; Mary puts out for the sex-hungry schoolboys, and the money is set aside for their futures – which are just around the corner. When Rosie receives clues that her real mother is alive, the money is directed at tracking her down and visiting her. She hires a private detective who takes this as a pro bono case and turns most of the scut work over to his nephew, a straight arrow college student who pays attention to Rosie in a respectful way. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the July 12, 2017 issue of the Fort Myers Florida Weekly, and the July 13 Naples, Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte, and Palm Beach editions, click here:  Florida Weekly – Rosie Girl

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