Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tess, Terrorists and The Tiara by Terry Baldwin Review

Tess, Terrorists and the Tiara

by Terry Baldwin
Will be available in paperback in August
Goodreads Summary:
Thirteen-year old Tess has never been able to compete with her “perfect” older sister, but now she must—if she wants to inherit her grandmother’s priceless tiara. The two girls have been invited to their grandparent’s lake house for the summer to help take care of Grandma who’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The sister who earns the most “helpful points” wins the former beauty queen’s crown.

"It’s not easy for Tess, who seems to always get things wrong despite best intentions. And who is that mysterious stranger who’s just moved next door to their grandparents’ summer cottage? 
Does he know that Tess’ grandmother was once the winner of a famous patriotic beauty contest? Or that she keeps her tiara where anyone can steal it? And why doesn’t he have a face?

This is a middle grade novel about relationships, stereotypes, family and doing the right thing. Tess and Brianna are sisters, eighth grade and sophomore respectively and they remind me a lot of Ramona and Beezus in their relationship. They love each other, but they are so opposite and have a hard time getting along. Tess, much like Ramona, seems to get things wrong a lot, but she really only has the best of intentions. Like when she rides her bike to Wilkins store to get information under the pretense of getting candy. She gets the information and the candy, but sticks the chocolate candy in her back pocket and forgets about it. Later, when she remembers it, it's one giant mess. Not intentional, but still, she messed up.  She's worried that the strangers who don't want anyone in their cove are planning to steal her crown. Or maybe Frank with the big "Don't Mess With Me" sticker on his truck is planning to steal it. But what really happens is something much worse. Tess finds out that the people staying in the house next to her grandparent's house are Muslims. She reads all about the girl that wears the burka in an old National Geographic and the restrictions placed on women in Muslim countries (this is an old magazine) and she jumps to conclusions. She runs to Frank with her suspicions, her worries about the Tiara, and Frank jumps to his own conclusions calling them terrorists.

Meanwhile, the competition for "helpful points" is no competition at all. Brianna is winning by leaps and bounds. It seems that she will win the Tiara worth a college education. How did grandma win it? She was the last winner of the "Miss Land of the Free" beauty pageant. So, since no one knew what to do with the tiara, she got to keep it. Though Tess is trying, her imagination, which is never a bad thing,  but is a bit overactive, takes her into overdrive and she gets too involved with the people next door to have time to earn "helpful points."

But, Tess does learn a few things about Alzheimers and her grandmother and life. She learns what's important in life and how good it feels to do the right thing. The novel is easy to read and the pace is fast. Though it's heavy on lessons it doesn't feel that way at all. It does cover a lot of life lessons in such a small book, but the lessons are brief on some points, heavier on others. I enjoyed it and agreed with it and the points it made.

There were some things that I had a little trouble with  There were some stereotypes like Frank with the cars up on blocks in his yard and the junk littering it. And Brianna, a sophomore who wants to study to be a doctor used the word "retarded" when referring to a girl with autism.  As a girl with a 4.0 GPA I'd expect her to know what autism is and not to use such an outdated term as "retarded." And every time someone said "autism" the other person would ask "artistic?" as if they'd never heard the word before. Given the fact that there were cell phones and computers I would assume that it was meant to be contemporary novel.

Despite those complaints, I felt the novel did a great job portraying the post 9/11 prejudices many have towards Middle Eastern looking people before they even discover what religion they are or even what their names are. There is an element of danger and competition. And as I said, Tess reminds me a lot of Ramona so I really enjoyed her character and the growth she showed from the beginning of the novel to the end. 

I highly recommend this novel to MG and up readers. The MC is 13 but the story is great for any reader. I was completely engrossed in the story as I read. It's a bit complex for the younger readers so I'd say it's for the older end of the MG range. And definitely it could carry over to any type of prejudice.

Don't forget the E-Copy giveaway is International HERE.

Heather

4 comments:

  1. This one sounds interesting. I do like a book about relationships, but would be a bit put off about the stereotypes you had problems with. Glad to see not all were bad and some were challenged. Plus character growth... WIN. :)

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  2. Always a WIN with character growth and especially with teens. Big growing up actually! I didn't expect the ending.

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  3. Just skimmed your review, Heather, as I have a copy to review. Glad you enjoyed it despite the few flaws you found.

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  4. I don't think I would have ever picked this book out due to the title and the cover. I certainly wouldn't have thought it was a MG book at all. It sounds like it was a good read, even with glitches you mentioned. (It would bug me to see the "autistic/artistic" and "retarded" statements as well.)

    - Jessica @ Book Sake

    ReplyDelete

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