Sunday, January 4, 2009


This is my first encounter with author Meg Tilly, in a book that I had such high hopes for. The topic of losing one's father to a war and then one's mother to depression is certainly not an easy one to tackle, however I was sadly quite disappointed with the manner in which Tilly had her characters go through their losses. I just missed something...

In Porcupine, Jacqueline or "Jack" as the tomboy twelve year old goes by, is her father's favorite. She has a snobby younger sister and an adorable younger brother, but she has always been her dad's favorite and both she and her father secretly know this. When her dad goes away to Afghanistan and does not return home, Jack, and her entire family are devastated. Her mom retreats into herself, failing to care for her children and leaving Jack to do the job of finding money for food, keeping the house clean, and trying to make her siblings stay cheerful.

When things get to be too much for her mother to bear, Jack and her brother and sister are swept into the car and told they are going to visit the great-grandmother they never knew they had. Soon, the kids are living on a farm in the middle of nowhere, with a relative that resents their mother something fierce, and a whole lot of thinking time on their hands.

Over the course of a few months, Jack starts to learn that it doesn't really matter if her family is "typical," but rather that she is happy with her newfound situation, making the best of the hand she's been dealt.

Though I think the premise of the Porcupine was good and the topic is one that definitely needs to be talked about, especially during the time of war we are currently in, Porcupine just was not the right way to do it. My biggest complaint is probably the language that Jack uses. I counted so many times in which the "f" word was used and "a**hole" was shouted at someone and in this particular book, I didn't feel it had a place. Now I'm not saying that I don't like swear words in teen books...sometimes they have the perfect place...however, the language Jack showcased felt out of place, forced, completely unnecessary, and false.

Overall, I was not impressed. I checked this out at a library near my home and it had been cataloged as a middle grade fiction book, a decision I probably would have made too. After reading it and looking it up on Amazon, I determined it is most definitely meant for young adults, however the young characters allow that fact to be quite misleading.

Again, I had high hopes for Meg Tilly's book and I do think a certain audience would enjoy it, getting past the unnecessary language was just a hurtle I didn't quite get over.

If you're interested in learning more about the book, or to purchase, click on the book cover to link to Amazon.

Meg Tilly
Young Adult
Tundra Books
September, 2007


Jeanette said...

I agree, it sounds like a great premise. It is too bad it did not turn out to be an enjoyable read.

Charlotte said...

Yeah, I really thought I was going to like it...but it didn't quite do it. I had such high hopes that I took it with me on an escape from home trip to Newport Creamery, to read in peace. But then I spilled my chocolate moo malt over it, which was very depressing on both counts--loss of book and loss of milkshake.

Amanda said...

Oh make me laugh! :)

J. Kaye Oldner said...

Great review, but too bad the book didn't live up to your expectations.

Marcia said...

Thanks for the review. It's too bad the book is flawed; this is a topic that needs to be discussed in books for young people.

Marcia Calhoun Forecki
Better Than Magic