03 February 2012

Independent reviews of 'Deirdre, the Wanderer' by younger readers

   as contributed to Internet discussion groups

edited by Colin Bunge

These compositions were gleaned from an Internet site featuring actual teens providing critical reviews of novels that are ostensibly aimed at teenaged audiences.  [Note: the reviews here reproduced were voluntarily submitted by readers who chose, read and reviewed the book of their own volition.  Neither the Publisher nor Author specifically recommends Deirdre, the Wanderer for any particular age of reader and will here reiterate the caution on the back cover: 'This book contains mature themes.']

  As the book features a narrator of this age the Publisher found it interesting to see how realistic or how interesting high-school students considered the character, the writing style, and the basic plot.  The site provided a reviewer with a brief description of each book as well as any press releases then available and then asked the reviewer to encompass responses to a few general questions in an essay format.
For inclusion here, the texts were edited for only obvious mechanical errors; however it should be noted that the calibre of thinking and expression of views in these reviews favourably impressed the Publisher and Author.  The reviews chosen for the (forthcoming) companion volume are listed in chronological order as they were published on the site and appear only coincidentally in descending age order of the reviewers.  The reader may also find it interesting that no teens were identified as male in contributing reviews of Deirdre, the Wanderer during the period it was listed on the site (just prior to publication of the third edition).

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Review by Cindy F--, age 16-1/2 / grade 11, New Jersey, USA

Deirdre, the Wanderer is an awesome story of a 15-year-old girl who runs away from home and tries to survive in the real world.  By hitchhiking, sailing, and telling a few ‘white lies’ she manages to get to the Bahamas where she believes all her problems will be over.  But she runs into many kinds of abuse, from being sexually harassed and fired from jobs and having to leave places she thought would be home.  Along the way she manages to make friends and most of all to survive.
The best part of reading this book was in the way Deirdre always faces her problems with optimism and especially with respect for other people.  She is never rude or nasty to anyone even when other people are nasty to her.  For that reason she is a role model for anyone who believes that life is too hard and they should just give up or try something easier.  Nothing that Deirdre tries is very easy but she always works through it, and so she gets to travel to some wonderful exotic places and learn how to live on her own.
The most awkward parts of the book were some of the lesbian scenes.  The first few times it’s obvious she is forced into it.  The next time, with Emily, she actually chooses to fool around with a married woman.  The last time it is with Sandy, who is a friend she just happens to fall in love with.  At times the book is very graphic and uncomfortable to read.  But, especially in the parts with Sandy, it is also very romantic and sweet.  I am not a lesbian but it’s obvious Sandy and Deirdre care very much for each other and you really do want them to stay together at the end, even just as friends.
The book is mostly very well written, especially the dialogue and the descriptions of sailing in the oceans and the surrounding environment.  The writer obviously knows what he is talking about and it adds to the interesting quality of the story.  There are a few places where it is too slow-moving but in other places, like when she tells Johnnie off at the restaurant, when she is living on the deserted island, and when she is dancing in the go-go place, it is very interesting and you can’t wait to see how it turns out so you will tend to read faster.
I enjoyed this book very much because it made me want to run away, just for a little while, just so I could see the Bahamas and go to warm exotic places.  It is a very good book to read at the beach or to make you think of summer vacation.  There are sequels coming out and I look forward to reading them soon.

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Review by Becca C--, age 16 / grade 10, Massachusetts, USA

This is one of those books that makes you say ‘Wow.’  It’s a totally fantastic story about a teenaged girl who runs away from some uncaring parents and hitchhikes to the Bahamas.  Her adventures make up a story that seems very believable just because of how much detail there is.  The main character, Deirdre, uses many different names and has to lie about her age sometimes, but she is really just a nice girl who is put into strange and awkward situations and then has to deal with it all the best she can.
Most of the story takes place in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.  Deirdre works as an exotic dancer which is exactly what people back home would not expect of her.  But she is smart and creative and makes it work for her.  She also works in restaurants and once as a nanny for a little girl.  Towards the end she saves the life of another nice girl, Sandy, after they are both given date rape drugs.  The two girls have a very close friendship that is actually very touching to read about.
As a basically nice person, Deirdre is a role model.  She is brave, strong and smart about making important life choices and dealing with consequences.  But she is usually disappointed and seems very sad most of the time, like she just needs someone to care about her.  Deirdre is the kind of girl you would like for your friend, and the story makes you wonder why she had to leave home until she tells you at the very end.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for action, adventure, and a strong girl protagonist, especially if you want to read a book that will make you laugh, cry, sit on the edge of your seat and say ‘wow’ too.

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Review by Marguerite H., age 15 / grade 9, Maryland, USA

I got Deirdre, the Wanderer on Amazon because I liked the description and the cover artwork looked interesting.  It is a story about a girl who runs away from home and runs into all kinds of abuse.  The girl is 15 and in 9th grade.  During her travels she is able to pass herself off as being 18 and sometimes even in college, because of how she acts and how she talks.  She has experience in sailing boats and in working on them and she uses that to sail away to the Bahamas.
In the Bahamas she manages to find an apartment with three college girls but they molest her, sexually, so she leaves and takes a job as a nanny.  Later she gets a job and works at a restaurant, until the owner’s son harasses her and attempts to rape her.  She fights back and quits and walks out after throwing her ripped shirt at him in front of everyone.  Later she meets a really nice rich guy but he thinks she is older and wants to marry her and get her pregnant so he can inherit all this money.  So she steals his arch-rival’s boat and sails to a deserted island where she gets to run around with no clothes on till this boring guy and his beautiful wife come, and then she seduces the guy’s wife.  So she is sort of a lesbian, but I think she is just confused and a little immature about it and doesn’t know herself yet.  Her next job is in Nassau where she works as an exotic dancer and people stuff lots of money into her underwear every night.  This is the sexiest part of the book and it actually makes you kind of envy her.
At the end she ends up living with this pretty rich girl from a really good school because she saved her life from some guys who gave them date rape drugs.  She and the rich girl become very close friends and have a kind of love affair, but it is not so much gross as it is sweet and romantic.  This part is kind of hard to read unless you have an open mind, but it was very tender and it makes you wish you had close friends you could share everything with.  That’s probably the author’s intention, to show how even one really close friend can change your whole life for the better.
The book is full of detail, especially about boats and houses and what the Bahamas look like.  After reading about Bay Street in Nassau I would like to go and see it.  There are other details about her jobs and how much money she makes that make it sound like you could follow what the main character does and be just as successful.  But the book was written before 9/11 and the world has changed, so you can’t.  Therefore it is basically a fantasy story that makes you think ‘what if?’
The book is kind of long but it keeps moving and you don’t want to put it down.  My favorite part was reading about her job as the exotic dancer because there is so much detail you feel like you are actually her experiencing it all.  The saddest part is that the main character is only 15 years old, and everything that happens is a lot to handle when you are 15.  Most people would not succeed the way she does.  This is why you want to feel sorry for her and wish you could help her or just be her friend, which is what she needs most of all.

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1 comment:

  1. When Colin says the reviews were edited for 'obvious mechanical errors' one of his peeves was the use of comma splices, which as I recall appeared to excess in at least one of these. There is no way he would have tolerated that! --nor would I have for that matter. This is one benefit of working with a trained editor and a member of the Queen's English Society and in defence of him I shall own that any extant errors in the text are most likely due to my own oversights and not to his!