Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Purple Girl by Audrey Kane

    Copy provided by Wakefield & Quincy Press through Netgalley

I have read some so called "middle grade" fantasy books that would rightfully put to shame the more "adult oriented" ones.
From the writing, characters, and plot, these authors are able to create amazing worlds, and characters that so far, have been able to stay away from YA and adult clichés.
This is not one of those cases.

I'll try to make this as concise as possible.
First of all, when I saw the cover, read the title, I honestly thought this would some whimsical little fantasy book about a magical purple girl.
I was not expecting this to be some sort of profound wake up call to race discrimination issues, as the author may have intended... in a very small (delusional) way.
The thing is, if this book was destined to open consciousness about racial discrimination?
It just crashed and burned!!
Because our little quirky character meets a young girl about her age who is:

 "Afraid of being seen, I turned my back to him and gazed the other way—where I spotted her. A gypsy girl! Just like the picture in my book…
The gypsy looked about my age, maybe a little older. Her long, straight hair was pulled back from her face, and large hoop rings dangled from her earlobes. When she spotted me, she stopped short. She mumbled to herself and waved her bony, ring-covered fingers through the air in a circular motion."

Gypsy is a racist word. 
The proper term is: Roma or Romani.
I'm surprised this passed the editing process. Especially in a book that is supposed to alert to racial problems.
Also, resorting to stereotypes regarding the Romani characters was just, once again, racist.
What was this??
What's this supposed to "teach" young readers?

Regarding the writing, the story is told in a concise lackluster manner.
There's no world building (England of Long Ago? That's it?), no character development, nothing. The characters are just flat, relying on a bunch of clichés.

There's the baby, who was born purple, and that's it.
"Of course" people are "afraid of her", because she's different....
"Of course" the parents will try to protect her...
And "of course" than when a strange boys climbs the garden walls that confine her world she falls madly deeply in love... as teens do, with their first love.
Middle grade or YA, this is the question.
Apparently YA.

An errand boy rushed by, carrying a parcel under each arm, the sun kissing his honey-blond hair.

His knuckles brushed my hand. I held my breath, but he didn’t notice the lavender tint creep across his knuckles…or he pretended not to. From the corner of my eye, I stole a look at him. His eyes were as clear as blue glass, and although he was thin, his chest was solid and strong and


He leaned toward me, as if he might kiss me.
A thirteen year old girl would probably kick his ass!

“Trust me, you’re anything but ordinary,” he said, breaking into his usual smile. “You’re more like a babe in the woods, so unsuspecting—”
Because of course the only way for girls to attract boys is to be considered helpless...

And stalking material:
“I spied on you for days, Purple Girl, before we ever met,” he said with a laugh. 

“I’m not going to miss you one bit,” I hollered, half-laughing, half-crying, fighting to keep more tears from surfacing. I stepped toward him, so close to him. I wanted to kiss him, to feel his lips against mine.

So the boy goes away, and the girl's big quest is to follow him.
Have her heart broken.
Figure out that she's some sort of special snowflake, and basically just save the day!
Very disappointing.

Oh, and the two illustrations on the inside?
Well, they just made things ickier, because, just like on the cover, the girl appears to be eight years old...

Buy "The Purple Girl"
@ The Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery!)

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