By Susin Nielsen
Published by Toronto: Tundra Books, 2010
With the same light-hearted, youth-savvy style in which she delivered us Word Nerd, Susin Nielsen has created another Canadian gem: Dear George Clooney, Please Marry my Mom. The attention to detail Nielsen pays to her Vancouver neighbourhood settings (Kitsilano in Word Nerd, and now mid-Main Street in Dear George... - with a cameo appearance from Liberty Bakery!), solidify a sense of place for her characters as they work their way through the turmoil of adolescence. Perfect for grade six to grade nine readers, Nielsen’s latest novel examines the effects of divorce on 12-year-old protagonist Violet. Violet is everything a main character should be; clever, witty and resourceful with just the right amount of mouthy, self-destructive charisma to keep a young reader engaged in her exploits. When Violet’s father up and leaves his family to start anew with a hot young wife in Los Angeles, Violet doesn’t think she and her younger sister Rosie will ever be able to mend their desperate-for-love mother. Refusing to stand by and witness another heart-breaking relationship, Violet schemes with best friend Phoebe, pinning her hopes on the unrealistic goal of pairing her mother with actor George Clooney. As expected, hilarity ensues, along with some poignant moments of non-traditional family values and self-discovery. Nielsen excels at capturing the true voice of this age group, and doesn’t miss a beat in youth culture, from Violet and Phoebe celebrating with “the Obama bump” to Facebook playing a major role in classroom cyberbullying. This book comes highly recommended as a read-aloud for the intermediate classroom, as any student will recognize a piece of themselves in Violet, and what’s more, reach the conclusion that most problems can be overcome with time and a little support from the non-celebrities in our lives.