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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Wild Orchid* by Beverley Brenna - young adult book review


Wild Orchid
by Beverley Brenna
Grades 9+ 156 pages Red Deer Press March 2006 Paperback    

In Wild Orchid, Taylor Simon is eighteen, a legal adult but spending her summer with her mother in Prince Albert National Park whether she likes it or not. She has to go along with her mother's plans because Taylor has Asperger's Syndrome and can't stay at home on her own. Taylor's mother, Penny, will be working at her boyfriend's pizza restaurant, and she and Taylor will be living with Danny, as well. Even though she's been forced to go to a new place against her will, Taylor is still being encouraged by Penny to be independent on the trip.

So Taylor's giving independence a try, which means a lot of new things, some already around and some she wants. She wants a boyfriend. She wants friends. She wants to see the supposedly extinct white orchid. Of course, everything she's doing is pretty new to her, anyway. She hasn't been to this park before, and she hasn't lived in that house or seen those people. For Taylor, new stuff can be hard to handle, but she's doing pretty well.

In this summer full of new things, Taylor is trying to be her own person instead of relying on her mother. It works out some times better than others, but she's finding her courage and independence and writing it all in her journal.

Much of the story involves a teenage girl doing typical teenage things, like going on a summer vacation or meeting her mother's boyfriend. These are major issues for Taylor, though. Things that wouldn't matter much to most people - having the same alarm clock or hating the color yellow, for example - are huge obstacles to Taylor. Her unique voice shows everyday things in a new perspective, something fresh and original rather than just another book about someone growing up. Technically, Taylor's already grown up; she just has to figure out how to be her own grown-up self instead of someone who must constantly rely on others. If this story were told in third person, it would be a story about a girl with Asperger's Syndrome going on vacation, but as Taylor tells her story, showing us what's inside her head, it's a fascinating read.

Beverley Brenna's unique novel contains a hint of sadness concerning what Taylor goes through because of her condition and how her life is so different from those of other people when, on the surface, it's so much like the lives of everyone else. Taylor's voice draws the reader into an interesting, informative, and touching book that should be read by people of all ages, adults and teenagers.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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