Review of Hyacinth Girls by Lauren Frankel

Hyacinth Girls: A NovelHyacinth Girls: A Novel by Lauren Frankel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Joyce and Rebecca are best friends growing up in Connecticut in the 80s. When Joyce becomes a teen mom, Rebecca steps in to help. Joyce and Rebecca raise Callie together and when Joyce unexpectedly dies, Rebecca becomes Callie’s guardian.

The first part of Hyacinth Girls is told from the first-person POV of Rebecca, who comes off as a scattered, overprotective and clueless simpleton. I was frustrated with this portion of the book and almost stopped reading. Rebecca’s penchant for daydreaming about “gateway men” who come to save her from her life seemed more like the fantasies of an adolescent girl than those of a woman in her mid-thirties. I found her character one-dimensional and irritating.

However, I am extremely glad I stuck with this story. Just as the author obviously intended, readers are given vital pieces of the story in increments as the book progresses. You think it’s going one way, but then Hyacinth Girls takes a heartbreaking and nasty turn when Callie’s POV takes over. Things are not nearly what they seemed to be in the beginning of the book.

Lauren Frankel’s writing comes alive with passion, angst and anguish when we read Callie’s story in her own words. So much so, that Hyacinth Girls could have been written by two entirely separate authors. I wondered if this was a deliberate writing strategy on the author’s part – one that I hope doesn’t backfire since not everyone might be as willing to read Rebecca’s narrative to get to the best part of the book. This book’s subject is too important and timely to ignore.

If anyone thinks that this level of bullying doesn’t exist among middle school girls, they’re wrong. It happens more often than we’d like to think. In an age where social media is the go-to form of communication for nearly every teenager, anyone’s life could easily be destroyed with one click by just one vindictive youngster.

As a parent, I was moved by this book. I think it’s a story that needs to be read by parents and children. The ending was slightly unrealistic, but this is fiction so it’s forgivable. I would highly recommend Hyacinth Girls to anyone who interacts with tweens and teens. received a complimentary ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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