Formerly Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham
♦publisher: Candlewick Press
♦release date: May 14, 2013
♦hardcover, 304 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review
It’s been a year since the shark attack that took Jane’s arm, and with it, everything she used to take for granted. Her dream of becoming an artist is in the line, and everything now seems out of reach, including her gorgeous, kind tutor, Max Shannon. While perfectly nice guy from her science class is clearly interested in Jane- removing her hear that no on ever would want a one–armed girl. Jane can’t stop thinking about Max. But is he interested romantic? Or does her just feel sorry for her? Formerly Shark Girl picks up where Kelly Bingham’s artful, honest debut left off.
Review: Gripping and poetic in its realism and honesty, Formerly Shark Girl grabs onto you and doesn’t let go.
It’s been little over a year since Jane lost her arm in a shark attack. Refusing to been seen as “shark girl”, Jane battles to be seen to as just Jane, proving that what couldn’t be taken from her is the tenacity and vivacious way she has taken on life since the attack. Determined to find a way to give back, Jane turns her focus on finding a way to make her life count by taking on the inner battle between her old love of art and her new desire of nursing, hoping that through her choice she will be able to give her life purpose.
Letters and offers continue to pour in asking Jane to share her story, promising that through her spared life, she does have purpose. This leaves Jane to replace her arm with a new weight, filled of expectations and the need to find meaning to her second chance on life.
While learning to paint with her left hand, Jane struggles to rediscover her passion for art, while trying to pass science and wondering if she will ever receive her first kiss, only adding to the normal pressures of any 17 year old high school girl. Will painting murals and art for the competition or volunteering at the hospital help her choose between going to Art College or Nursing School? All the while, the form of giving back can only be discovered by Jane herself.
Formerly Shark Girl, is a deeply poetic read that takes you throughout the struggle of a teenage girl caught between two worlds- one strained of obligation, verses one that is filled with passion. Struggle, determination, and the strength of one girl who defies the obstacles set against her to forge her own path. The story resonates that by losing part of her arm she didn’t lose part of who she is. It's a story teaching the valuable lesson that in life there are, “no promises, just lots of hope.”
Kelly Bingham brilliantly captures the essence of Jane , in a way that makes you believe that she herself could be “ shark girl”. Even with its short verse prose, there is still a depth and intensity that gives strength to Jane’s story, allowing for her character to shine. However, with the short verse style, in which this book was written, I yearn for the extra details and storyline that comes from a traditionally written book.