Author: Alyson Gerber
Age group: 8 - 12 years
Page count: 287 pages
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication date: March 28th, 2017
Summary from Barnes & Noble:
Rachel Brooks is excited for the new school year. She's finally earned a place as a forward on her soccer team. Her best friends make everything fun. And she really likes Tate, and she's pretty sure he likes her back. After one last appointment with her scoliosis doctor, this will be her best year yet.
Then the doctor delivers some terrible news: The sideways curve in Rachel's spine has gotten worse, and she needs to wear a back brace twenty-three hours a day. The brace wraps her in hard plastic from shoulder blades to hips. It changes how her clothes fit, how she kicks a ball, and how everyone sees her--even her friends and Tate. But as Rachel confronts all the challenges the brace presents, the biggest change of all may lie in how she sees herself.
Written by a debut author who wore a brace of her own, Braced is the inspiring, heartfelt story of a girl learning to manage the many curves life throws her way.
Rachel was a relatable character. She faced and handled different things in ways people will connect to. Sports, love life, and acceptance from her peers are just a few of her concerns. However, Rachel seemed very whiny in regards to her brace. She wasn't grateful for the opportunity she had to wear the brace and wouldn't have worn it if not for her mom's constant nagging. However, I understand why Rachel would be so upset. With so much pressure from her friends and parents, it makes sense that she would be frustrated with her back brace. I appreciated that the characters worked through their problems and tried to make the situation better. Rachel listened to her parents' concerns and grew to understood why they wanted her to wear her brace. She overcame her frustration and took responsibility for it.
There was a lot of great character growth in this book. Rachel learned that she can turn something miserable into a better experience, and all it requires is a change of attitude. Rachel slowly recognized that other people's opinions didn't have to matter to her, and that she could stand up for herself. Rachel's proactive attitude improved her situation. Her classmates, parents and doctors recognized that even with her limitations, she could still handle responsibility.
I was shocked by how badly Rachel's classmates treated her after she got the brace. I wish that she could've been treated better. When Rachel stood up for herself, her friends supported her and made sacrifices for her. Sadly, I wasn't interested in the interactions between Rachel and her friends. I feel that a lot of parts could be omitted because they didn't add up to what made Rachel a strong character. The first time I read Braced, I skipped through a couple of pages before I got invested into Rachel's world.
It seemed ludicrous that Rachel and her friends were in seventh grade and they were already going out. Crushes, I get, but dating? However, Tate and Rachel's romance was realistic. I don't think that their relationship supported the story very much, but readers will relate to it.
Rachel kept on practicing the sport she loved, even though she faced challenges with her back brace. Through practice, she got better because she was determined to succeed. It showed a commitment and dedication to something she cared about.
Braced is a touching story about scoliosis. It teaches how to accept yourself and how to make the most out of a bad situation. Although some parts bothered me a little, it will definitely be a hit with readers! It's an important book for libraries to have as there are so few MG books about scoliosis. The author went through the same experience as Rachel, and it is very meaningful to have first-hand knowledge about the topic.
Taken from her website. Click here to access it.