Peace, Love and Baby Ducks

Peace, Love and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle; published by Dutton Books, a member of Penguin Group, New York, 2009; 289 pages.

Carly is a child of privilege and wealth.  She abhors it.  Instead of a summer job at the local country club, Carly works hard in Tennessee; seriously physical labor.  When she returns to her affluent Atlanta home, with her dashiki and Jesus sandals, she is shocked to see her little sister (Anna) has developed, as in turned “hot.”  All the boys are now drawn to Anna, and even Carly’s friends seem to be drawn to Anna.  Enter a new boy, old friends, and a fairly dysfunctional family, and Carly’s sophomore year at the private Christian school promises to be memorable.

This coming of age story finds Carly struggling with her identity, a kind of cognitive dissonance between what she has, what she wants and what’s “real” for her.  Lauren Myracle has created a character that could be the girl next door: income aside, most girls struggle with defining themselves, like Carly.  Her unique tastes in clothes and music help us to know her.  Not everyone will make the same choices as Carly, but knowing that they can make choices and that it’s okay to stick up for who you are, make this book a valuable addition to the realistic fiction must-read lists.

Taking a cue from the title, Myracle has divided the book into sections: Peace; Love; and Baby Ducks.  Themes of what it means to be an individual, sibling rivalry, and where to draw the line in friendship are explored in each.  Screened images head each chapter: either a peace sign, heart or rubber duckies, depending on the section.  Cute touch, but not the reason I like this book.  Lauren Myracle is gifted with a teen tongue as she writes like teens talk (well, the teens in my book club; or sitting at Starbucks, like, talking; or hanging at my house with my own adolescents).  This gift makes her books accessible to teens as an easy read; her ability to realistically address coming of age issues is icing on the cake.  I don’t think boys will be flocking to read this one; but girls with a wide variety of reading preferences should enjoy the book.

4P     4Q     Grade Level: 7-10

Cover Art: The cute images of a peace sign, heart and trio of rubber duckies replace the words on the cover.  The graphic designs, on a white background, will most definitely appeal to the intended audience.  Blocks of color (red and white) with reverse type and the trio of ducks adorn the spine, helping the book stand out in the stacks.

From Reading List: Keepin’ It Real (Realistic Fiction)

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