Saturday, May 23, 2009

Review: The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez by Judy Goldschmidt

Raisin Rodriguez's mom gets married and moves across the country with her new husband, taking Raisin and her little sister from Berkley, CA to Philadelphia, PA. Not surprisingly, the move is difficult. Raisin misses her two best friends, doesn't fit in with the popular girls no matter how hard she tries, and feels as if she is completely out of place in this new blended family. So Raisin starts a secret blog to keep her best friends informed about her life. And she is not necessarily nice. As a matter of fact, Raisin is overly concerned with being popular, judging people based on their looks, and just generally snarky. In short, she's a pretty average, garden-variety middle school girl. Add in the difficulty of having moved and adjusting to an entirely different culture (seriously--Berkley to Philadelphia--how much more different could the culture be?) and Raisin's fits of self-pity, her meanness towards the only person who shows her any kindness, her pettiness and general snottiness towards being a contributing member of this step-family make perfect sense. The denouement is completely predictable and of course Raisin grows as a person once she sees her writings for what they are. But the book doesn't set out to push any boundaries, just as the middle school lit we read eons ago didn't push any boundaries. It just gave us a mirror to look into, as Raisin does for the current technologically savvy set of middle schoolers today. And what Raisin learned, they will hopefully learn by osmosis rather than experience. Because it's far easier to learn from Raisin's mistakes than to make them yourself. Written as blog posts, this was cute, funny, self-aware, and altogether entertaining, as long as you aren't living with an ungrateful and mopey Raisin yourself. It should appeal to middle school girls and to some of their moms.

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