The Whole Stupid Way We Are
The Whole Stupid Way We Are
By N. Griffin
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Hardcover, 9781442431553, 352pp.
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
It's Maine. It's winter. And it's FREEZING STINKIN' COLD Dinah is wildly worried about her best friend, Skint. He won't wear a coat. Refuses to wear a coat. It's twelve degrees out, and he won't wear a coat. So Dinah's going to figure out how to help. That's what Dinah does--she helps. But she's too busy trying to help to notice that sometimes, she's doing more harm than good. Seeing the trees instead of the forest? That's Dinah.
And Skint isn't going to be the one to tell her. He's a helper guy too. He's worried about a little boy whose dad won't let him visit his mom. He's worried about an elderly couple in a too-cold house down the street.
But the wedge between what drives Dinah and what concerns Skint is wide enough for a big old slab of ice. Because Skint's own father is in trouble. Because Skint's mother refuses to ask for help even though she's at her breaking point. And because Dinah might just decide to...help. She thinks she's cracking through a sheet of ice, but what's actually there is an entire iceberg.
"Skint's life is spinning out of control, and Dinah's desperate efforts to stop the spin only hasten it. This is a story that is so furious, so heartbreaking, and at the same time, so shiny, that by the last line, I realized that everyone here, including the reader, can be their own boss of light. A thing of beauty, that's what this is."
-Kathi Appelt, author of The Underneath, a Newbery Honor book
* "When readers meet 14-year-old Dinah, she’s plotting to get her best friend Skint out of detention, which is Dinah all over: she’s a loving worrier, loyal even to the people and things she’s ambivalent about, like the Girls’ Friendly Society, a service group whose members have dwindled to three older women, Dinah, and the technically ineligible Skint. The Girls’ Friendly tries to help people in its small Maine town, but never in the way Dinah and Skint wish. And the truth is, Skint, whose father has early-onset dementia, could use some help himself, not that he’d take it. First-time author Griffin is good at depicting a small town where the many interconnections make it hard to know what to overlook and when to intervene, and she is equally tuned into the different ways people, adults and teens both, fail each other. It’s impossible not to like clumsy, warm-hearted Dinah, even as her best intentions turn Skint’s family upside down; Griffin’s portrayal of Dinah and Skint’s sense of injustice, frustration, and rage is wrenching and difficult to forget."
"Readers who invest in this quirky set of characters and circumstances will be rewarded."
"The theme of missed opportunities for real connection is reminiscent of Perkins’ Criss Cross (BCCB 9/05), so steer readers who loved that book to this one. This title, however, offers more action, action that is sometimes funny, sometimes frustrating, and sometimes painful as readers realize along with Dinah and Skint that not everything in life is fixable, and that we must make room for sadness and loss."