Jennifer Gooch Hummer
Fiction Std (2012)
Reviewed by Madeleine Sullivan (age 18) for Reader Views (6/12)
Apron Bramhall, the protagonist of “Girl Unmoored” by Jennifer Gooch Hummer, is unmoored. Her mother recently died of cancer, her father is already moving on and is getting married to Apron’s mother’s nurse – M, who gives Apron evil looks, and her best friend is ‘trading up,’ exchanging Apron for the most popular girl in seventh grade.
Things appear to be going downhill, her life floating away, when the guy who played Jesus in the musical “Jesus Christ, Superstar” invites Apron to work at the flower shop owned by him and his boyfriend.
I enjoyed every minute of “Girl Unmoored” and I ended up finishing it in only a couple days, staying up late to finish it. And, honestly, I think anyone could enjoy this book. It’s about a middle-schooler, and while well-written for a broader audience, is still approachable for mature younger readers.
I will place a minor warning: in a very tasteful manner, “Girl Unmoored” included death, homosexuality and aids. Each of these topics isn’t tiptoed around, or awkwardly ignored, nor do any of them fill up the novel with grand questions of meaning or morality. They are simply present as subtle aspects of Apron’s life.
Jennifer Gooch Hummer has an excellent grasp of alliteration and analogies; when describing the sorrow Apron feels, she writes “The church smelled like leftover tears. Sadness was tucked into corners and hidden under beams and pasted so thick on the walls that it was hard to breathe.” Another of my favorite quotes comes when Apron is describing the flower shop: “And suddenly it smelled like someone forgot to turn on the gravity. The air was so fresh and light you could practically float on it. Flowers were everywhere, all of them bursting with color.” There were many, many passages from the book which I copied to my ‘commonplace book.’ Hummer’s grasp of using words and concrete descriptions to portray deep and heartfelt emotions was wonderful.
Throughout “Girl Unmoored” Apron deals with the meaning of the relationships we have with other people. When we love someone and get to know someone, we create a permanent connection. Even when someone leaves, or dies, the connection is still left. I found this a beautiful reminder of the significance of my friendships with others.
As I said before, and I must say it again, I would highly recommend this book (in fact, I've already offered to lend it to a friend). “Girl Unmoored” by Jennifer Gooch Hummer managed to be equal parts humor and emotional impact, and I loved Apron and empathized with her struggles.