A thirteen-year-old girl growing up in the projects faces all sorts of challenges. But even readers who are living in other home situations will find plenty of reasons to connect with Delilah – or Dellie, as she’s called. She’s crushing on the cutest boy in her seventh grade classes, and she’s getting the hint that he might just be crushing on her, too. Her best friend gets mad at her, and she endures the social sabotage thrown at her by a rebellious classmate who delights in making her suffer. Her math grades are terrible, and the new substitute teacher isn’t cutting anyone any slack. And to top it all off, her overly protective mother doesn’t allowed her to go outside and play with the other kids after school.
Many of these woes probably sound normal to other kids. What isn’t normal is Dellie’s burden of guilt. Her younger brother died last year, and she’s sure it was her fault. Her mom isn’t coping well, and the whole family suffers. Do her parents blame her?
And then there’s Corey, a small boy in the projects who’s eternally hungry and always begging for food. There’s more to his story, and Dellie really wants to make his life better. I ached for her attempts, knowing they were fueled by a longing to somehow make up for her brother’s death.
How much can one small girl be expected to handle? What hidden hurts do we all carry? How do they affect our behavior? Nearly everyone in Dellie’s world has been changed by something bad in their past. Some have triumphed, others have not. What must be accepted and what can be fought against? Is change possible? When should we let go and when should we hold on even more tightly? So many questions to think about! But, happily, the message that came through to me the clearest was ‘stronger together’. I hope that young readers pick up some advice on how to face down their own inner demons, and feel more secure in seeking help from family and friends.
My thanks to author Danette Vigilante for gifting me with a copy of her book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.