What It's About (via Goodreads):
From Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli (Maniac Magee, Stargirl) comes the knockout story of a girl who must come to terms with her mother's death from inside the walls of a prison.
Cammie O'Reilly is the warden's daughter, living in an apartment above the entrance to the Hancock County Prison. But she's also living in a prison of grief and anger about the mother who died saving her from harm when she was just a baby. And prison has made her mad. This girl's nickname is Cannonball.
In the summer of 1959, as twelve turns to thirteen, everything is in flux. Cammie's best friend is discovering lipstick and American Bandstand. A child killer is caught and brought to her prison. And the only mother figures in her life include a flamboyant shoplifter named Boo Boo and a sullen reformed arsonist of a housekeeper. All will play a role in Cammie's coming-of-age. But one in particular will make a staggering sacrifice to ensure that Cammie breaks free from her past.
Master storyteller Jerry Spinelli spins a tale of loss and redemption like no other. The Warden's Daughter shows that kindness and compassion can often be found where we least expect it.
This is a luminous book, and I couldn't put it down. I marveled at the language, at the way Spinelli handled the telling of the tale, and about how Cammie exploded onto the page.
For writers, this would be a good book to study for how to deal with unlikable characters. Cammie acts out big-time, but it's for a reason. A motherless child--her mother died to save her--Cammie is looking around for a mother figure. But all the women she is around are prisoners in the prison where her father is the Warden. There's one trustee (the term used for prisoners who are allowed to help in the warden's quarters) but this woman has secrets and troubles of her own...
It is also a book which should be studied for the writer's use of time. We know from the outset that Cammie is looking back at her life from an adult vantage point and, at the end we realize why. This technique is accomplished brilliantly.
For readers, this is a sophisticated novel which, in parts, is very sad. It may be a book that gets more love from adults than for the target audience, but I would love to hear from any young readers who have tackled it.
Jerry Spinelli, quite frankly, is a national treasure. I was thrilled to be able to read this novel the week of its publication, and to be a part of this blog tour.
January 3: Seeing Double in Neverland
January 4: Here's To Happy Endings
January 5: My Brain on Books
January 6: Book Blather
January 9: Bookhounds YA
January 10th: Reviews Coming at YA
January 11th: Project Mayhem
January 12th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
January 13th: Readers in Wonderland
January 16th: The Cover Contessa
January 17th: YA Books Central
January 18th: Reading Nook Reviews
January 19th: Xpresso Reads
Here is a video of Jerry Spinelli talking about THE WARDEN'S DAUGHTER:
(Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher, and this did in no way affect the content of my review.)