Jane is ready. She has her sketchbook (one of the most important things in her life), her obnoxious brother Michael and her mother. Everything is packed. The beach is calling. It's a beautiful day, clear and perfect. Jane couldn't ask for a better one. She heads toward the water and starts swimming. And that's about all she can remember.
Her brother Michael remembers it all too well. The water turning red as Jane is pulled onto the beach. The shock of seeing her mangled body. The ambulance pulling up and taking his sister away. He caught it all on camera, and it's this footage that changes Jane's life.
It's a long road to recovery for Jane. The pain, the loss of her arm to a shark, the rehab...it's something she can't psychologically get through. She knows it will take time, and she knows her life now has changed. The sketchbook she always carried around? Useless now. Everyday tasks at home? Can't even accomplish those. And don't even talk about going to back to school. Not now, not with the everyone seeing and knowing what happened.
First it's the newscasts, then the letters begin to come in, not in a trickle but en masse. Everyone encouraging her, praying for her, hoping for the best. But all of that doesn't matter unless Jane decides to make is matter personally for her, and she is not feeling it. Until a boy named Justin enters her life and makes an impact.
But is Jane ready to begin again? Can she accept her new normal?
Bingham writes a beautiful novel in verse through Jane's eyes from the first struggle to the continuation of her new life. It's about Jane's journey that pulls the reader in, from her interminable hospital stay to her trying to overcome the obstacles she faces within and without herself. Bingham also inserts letters and external dialogue within the novel in verse to not only give readers first person perspective, but third person as well. This is a quick read and is perfect for this summer because....
Bingham has recently come out with a sequel to the novel entitled Formerly Shark Girl. They say one year can change your life. Jane knows this all too well, because she has struggled with her life and still continues to struggle against the doubt she contains. The reader sees her emotional and physical progress in this sequel and how much stronger she has become. Again, Bingham inserts letters from strangers asking how she is and how inspirational her story has become. A perfect ending to Jane's last year in high school and all the changes in her life that have taken place in 365 days. Bingham ends this novel with the possibility of another...or maybe not.
COMMON CORE PAIRS:
Hamilton, Bethany. (2006). Soul Surfer: the true story of faith, family, and fight to get back on the board. MTV Books
Capuzzo, Michael. (2003). Close to Shore: the terrifying shark attacks of 1916. Crown Publishers