Title: Growth Spurt
Author: Roxie Prince
Two years after the end of The Way We Go, the debut novel by Roxie Prince, Growth Spurt picks back up with Katie Sterling and her friends as they turn thirteen and enter the confusing era of their lives wherein they are unsure whether to start growing up or to cling tightly to their childhoods.
Katie grapples with her boycrazy peers, and her inability to connect with them. As a member of the Young Debutante Society, she has her “coming out” party to prepare for, but her friendships and her identity come into question as the event approaches.
Michaela’s family is in turmoil over her parents’ divorce, and she and her brother rebel. Michaela tries to find solace in chaos, but her desire to grow up too fast puts her in a terrible position, leaving her feeling more alone than ever before.
Rachael and Aubrey struggle to find their place in their new dynamic. Aubrey’s strong Mormon faith and head-in-the-the-clouds personality separates her from her friends. Rachael struggles to assert herself and form an identity of her own while balancing the excitement of her first, secret, boyfriend.
All four girls have a lot of growing up to do; whether they do it together or not is what they’ll have to decide.
One thing that I love about Roxie Prince’s writing is that she can write from the perspective of thirteen year olds, and still make her writing fit for readers of all ages. As someone in my 20s, I adored this book due to the heavy topics that were discussed, and I adored how Prince didn’t sugarcoat the pre-teen experience. All of the characters that she chose to be in her cast were raw and real, and I found myself confused and hurting along with them.
Most books that I read that do involve characters in their pre-teens are dumbed down to the point where no one outside of the age range would be able to enjoy the writing. This genre definitely needs more books like Prince’s to show that young people don’t need books that sugarcoat their experience, but help them to fight through their struggles and experiences with characters who know what they are going through. Books that don’t shy away from tough experiences are the most valuable of all, and Growth Spurt is one of them.
Even though this novel is a sequel to Prince’s first book, The Way We Go, it can stand by itself and the reader doesn’t need to have knowledge of the first novel. Growth Spurt just follows the main character’s sister from The Way We Go as she enters her teen years and struggles with feelings that she is not used to. Prince did an excellent job of following three main pre-teens, while also showing insight from their parents and peers to intensify the story. Her writing grapples with homosexuality, drug abuse, divorce, eating disorders, and so much more. As someone who has struggled with multiple of these issues, I found myself connecting to each of the characters that struggled throughout the book, and I even felt that the book was healing to myself after all of this time.
The fact of the matter is, Prince deserves a wider audience. Her books could easily be taking over the bookshelves of bookstores nationwide, and that is my honest opinion. She knows her audience, but also knows how to write books that can be enjoyed by all. Anyone who is in their pre-teens, or has grown up as a woman, needs to read this book. It will change you.
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