A Certain Strain of Peculiar Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-01-18 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 5 user ratings

" First person narrative. Cricket is bullied and utterly silent. She wants to leave Tennessee and go to Wren Alabama to live with her grandmother in a safe place where she can find herself. Her mom does not understand Cricket's suffering and demurs so Cricket, gets into her mother's truck with a credit card and some cash and drives to Wren herself. Over the course of the next few months Cricket finds, her way, her place and her voice in Wren. " said.

"I was drawn to this YA because of the setting - Lawrence County, AL is close to where I grew up and where I lived when I married. The places and attiudes were spot on in that regard - folks there were often a "certain strain of peculiar". Amateau has created a heroine that the reader can really get behind with Cricket - you're rooting for her from the first pages, and you really feel for her, Dixie, and the rest of the characters. A really quick, enjoyable read- I'm definitely going to read more by Amateau. " said.

"Mary Harold has had enough of her school in Virginia. When her mother doesn't respond the way Mary wants, she drives to Wren, Alabama, to start over with her grandmother, Ayma. As she meets new friends and neighbors in town, and has her mother visit, she discovers her mom might still have a home in Wren, after all.[return][return]Mary learns about cattle, who she is, who she wants to be, all while adjusting to life in a new town. This is a great story of coming of age, learning who you are, and how family affects you." said.

"A Certain Strain of Peculiar
by Gigi Amateau
Mary Harold Woods hopes that moving away from her small Virginia town and living with her Grandmother Ayma will give her a fresh start on life—a life that has labeled her as “the grossest girl” in her school and hometown. When her mother forbids it, Mary runs away to her grandmother in Wren, Alabama where she meets new challenges even harder than those she faced back in Virginia. Yet with the support of her community and her family, Mary Harold develops new tools that help her to face the hardships that life has in store for every young woman and discovers self-esteem she never knew she possessed. A beautifully written book that helps even a city gal like me understand why people love nature. It's a chick book for sure; girls will love Mary Harold for her fierce, fighting nature and her compassion for those less fortunate than she. What is also very cool about this book is that it's not a romance...Mary Harold finds her own worth without the help of some sappy boy who worships the ground she walks on...and I love that!
" said.

"Cricket is a 13 year old who thinks nothing of stealing her Mom's credit card and truck and driving almost 700 miles to her grandmother's home. She has been verbally abused by her classmates and feels that she cannot continue living in Virginia and would prefer to give up living with her Mom, a single parent, and live in Alabama with her grandmother in a very small town where everyone knows everything about you.

Cricket suffers from anxiety attacks and at times of high stress cannot breathe, however as she introduces herself in a new social setting she repeats the mantra her Mom said, "You are starting new, you can be anyone you want to be."

Cricket befriends a young girl who does not speak but acts like a horse -- for some reason her Mom says she needs to protect Daisy and she does. Cricket uses her new found voice and muscles from working on her grandmother's farm to protect her friend both verbally and physically.

I like this book and think that it should be read by anyone who has suffered through bullying. Learning to find your voice is essential in life and this book helps you to see how one girl found hers...
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"Ever since a misunderstanding in fourth grade, Mary Harold, now finishing sixth grade, has been teased to the point of being a total outcast in her school and causing her frequent panic attacks. She hides behind her long hair and a bulky sweater. She's decided that the solution is for her and her mom to move back to Wren, Alabama, the one place she thinks she can breath. When her mother refuses, 13-year-old Mary Harold steals her mom's truck and drives to Alabama anyway.

The events that follow aren't terribly surprising but they're portrayed so convincingly that this really is a book about the journey instead of the destination (although the destination is nice.) The characters all differ just enough from standard types to keep the interest of this adult. The emotions are all portrayed strongly enough that I think teens will be instantly sucked into the story as well. And while Mary Harold's path is fairly predictable it's not a straight line, so there are also enough challenges along the way to keep a reader's interest.

I strongly recommend this to anyone looking for a story about characters who don't quite fit in.
" said.

"Reviewed by Steph for

Mary Harold Woods is peculiar. Because she is so peculiar, she is often picked on by her classmates, and she doesn't feel like she belongs in Virginia. However, there is one place that Mary Harold has always felt like she belongs: Wren, Alabama.

Wren is where her beloved Grandma, Ayma, lives. However, Mary Harold's mother, Tabitha (Bye), won't go back. So it's up to Mary Harold to somehow get to Wren so she can figure out who she is and where she belongs in the world.

Once in Wren, Mary Harold works as a farmhand along with the friendly Bud, who has some past history with Bye. And there's another surprise in Wren: another girl just as peculiar as Mary Harold herself. Dixie is odd, and Mary Harold takes it upon herself to stand up for Dixie and protect her, something no one ever did for Mary Harold.

Through this coming-of-age and self-discovery story, Gigi Amateau provides a quaint and peaceful setting where a lone and lonely girl finds herself. Any reader can relate to the sense of belonging that Mary Harold struggles with in the beginning of the novel.

A CERTAIN STRAIN OF PECULIAR is recommended for all teenage girls who went through the odd phase of coming into your body and personality, becoming who you are today.
" said.

"Mary Harold is peculiar: she's thirteen, is not quite sure who she is or who she wants to ne, she's frightened of her world to the extent that she gets panic attacks, she has no friends, and she comes from a family of women who have all done things there own way no matter who objects. There was so much in this story I liked. Dixie, the girl who is a horse, was fantastic. Mary's mother didn't impress me much, but she did seem to have her own problems to deal with. The representation of Mary's family as "country" was great - definitely a modern culture that is rarely represented positively in kids' books.

I especially enjoyed Mary's growing sexuality, which I thought was another underrepresented and yet totally normal aspect of a 13 year old girl. She's a sexual being - she likes her developing body and the feelings it creates - but her sexuality hasn't found a focus yet. There are 13 year olds who know they are straight or know they are queer, but there are also a bunch of them who haven't reached that point yet. She's still busy worrying about the cows and her deer and her friend who is a girl and a horse.

At the same time, there is something about this book that simply did not gell for me. I'm not partial to stories in which dreams become plot devices, for one. Also, Mary's voice didn't always ring completely true. Still, overall an enjoyable read.
" said.

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