One of the priviledges of being an English teacher is being somewhat haphazardly exposed to wonderful literature. I am now beginning to read the texts set at my new school beginning with Kelly Bingham’s Shark Girl at Year Nine.
This is a wonderfully written story, told in poetic episodes, journal entries, phone conversations, and letters. The result is a beautifully understated journey from darkness into light.
Jane Arrowood visits the beach with her family one day, and is attacked by a shark. Jane loses her right arm – dashing her hopes of becoming a professional artist and of fitting the stereotypical model of normalcy forever.
Not only does Jane have to deal with her own insecurities and the everyday little actions that have just become far more difficult, she also has to deal with the reactions of family and friends. These are heightened by the fact that an amateur video of the attack was released through the media, making Jane somewhat of a celebrity.
Little by little, we see Jane let others back into her heart and begin to imagine a positive future for herself. Realistic rather than trite, this is a very worthwhile read.