It's the middle of summer in Mirabeau, Texas, but already Garnet Hubbard looks forward to fall -- to entering seventh grade and becoming a teenager at last. With Opal, her beautiful and popular fourteen-year-old sister, as her guide, Garnet is sure to have a great year. But everything changes when their mother, Melanie, packs them up and heads for Nashville, determined to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a country singer. Almost before they know it, Melanie drops the girls at her sister's house in Oklahoma, assuring them she'll be back just as soon as she's settled in Tennessee. But when a few days turn into a few weeks and beyond, with no Melanie in sight, the girls begin to realize what has happened.
While Opal soon becomes one of the most popular girls in school, her younger sister struggles. For Garnet, getting used to her new life means trying to figure out how to have pride in herself when it seems she has little to offer the world and the odds are stacked against her. With only each other to lean on, Melanie's "precious gems" must learn to live with the hand they've been dealt and to accept the changing face of their family.
Set in the early 1960s and beautifully told by D. Anne Love, Semiprecious is a powerful, poignant, and often funny coming-of-age novel that will stay with readers long after the turn of the final page.
Love's (The Puppeteer's Apprentice) novel set in the 1960s describes the experiences of 12-year old narrator Garnet and her 15-year old sister, Opal, whose vain, demanding mother prizes her dream of becoming a country singer more than her so-called "precious gems." Garnet's narration takes a while to find the right pitch, but when it does it hits some high notes. After the girls try to orchestrate the perfect birthday for their mother, their father ignores their advice to get her a coveted guitar and instead gives their mother a vacuum cleaner; she explodes, plucks the girls from their Texas home, and drops them with her sister, Julia, in backward Willow Flats, Okla., so she can finally try her luck in Nashville. Garnet struggles against her shame at being poor and her anger towards her mother; when she finally tracks her mother down, she realizes the extent of the woman's betrayal (she has been stealing their father's disability checks, while the children and their aunt have been near starvation). Cultural references to the space race, sit-ins in the South, speculation about Senator Kennedy running for president, all help to place the narrative in the context of its time. However, the import given to Garnet's evolving passion for art seems overblown. Ultimately, what will stay with readers is the heroine's gradual realization that to her mother she's only "semiprecious," and her courage to embrace life anyway. Ages 10-14.
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I'm not done with this book but so far it is VERY good! I would recommend it to teenage girls. Great great book!