School Library Journal Review - Mud Girl

Reviewed by: Roxanne Myers Spencer

Abi, 16, has a long summer ahead of her. Her mother left without a word a year ago, and since then, Abi's father has rarely left his armchair. The teen has to shoulder many responsibilities and she is full of questions. A woman from the Big Sister organization attempts to befriend her, with mixed results, as the woman has her own haunted past. Abi is happy to find a boyfriend, Jude, but soon discovers that reality differs from romantic fantasy. Jude's toddler son, Dyl, has been cared for by his gravely ill grandmother since his mother took off. Abi is forced to look past her own situation and help the little boy. The pace of the novel is rather languid, and much of the story is formed by the protagonist's internal dialogue and unarticulated frustration. The potent symbols of her mother's beloved, abandoned greenhouse and the endlessly churning river below the house frame many of the listless, small events. While readers will empathize with Abi's dismal situation, it takes time for anything much to happen. The climactic scenes at the end seem rushed after otherwise turtlelike progression. Despite living inside Abi's head for most of the novel, readers may not truly connect with her until the end, when she finally understands what is most important to her. 

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