Book 44: The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danzinger
Summary from goodreads:
Marcy’s life is a mess. Her parents don’t understand her, she feels like a fat blimp with no friends, and her favorite teacher just got fired. Ms. Finney wasn’t like the other teachers, and she was helping Marcy feel good about being herself.
Now that she’s gone, Marcy doesn’t know what to do. She’s always thought things would be better if she could just lose weight, but the loss of Ms. Finney sparks something inside her. She decides to join the fight to bring back her teacher, and in doing so, she discovers that her voice might matter more than she ever realized.
Someone on the NaNo forums suggested I read this book because it’s similar to the one that I’ll be writing. I will say that I loved the idea behind this book. I loved that Marcy thinks of herself as a blimp with no friends and starts to realize that that’s not really true. I love that she has a teacher that makes them think about things and that they all band together to try to help her get her job back. I love that there’s a romantic subplot (sort of) that doesn’t take over focus of the story. I like that Marcy isn’t afraid to be a little bit different than the other people in her class.
What I didn’t like was that it all seemed rather simplistic. Marcy’s supposed to be in ninth grade, but it felt more like I was reading a book about a fifth grader, designed for fifth graders. That might have something to do with the fact that this book was written like 30 years ago, but I didn’t like it. I’m used to reading young adult books, but this read more like a middle grade novel. Great if that’s the sort of thing that you’re looking for; not so great if you were expecting something else.
Mr. Stone and Marcy’s father seemed like caricatures to me. Really, this whole book read sort of like a caricature/exaggeration to me. Again, perhaps that’s because it’s meant for 10-12 year olds, but I found it hard to read because they didn’t really seem like real people. They just sort of seemed like outlines of people.
Overall, I liked the message of this book, and I would definitely recommend this book for elementary and early middle schoolers who feel out of place or alone or misunderstood. I would not recommend this book for high schoolers, as they’d probably miss the message because they’d be too busy making fun of the writing. If I had read this book first as a child, I probably would have really liked it.