Title: Throwaway Girl
Author: Kristine Scarrow
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Opening line: “…I haven’t always been called Andy …”
Blurb: Andy Burton knows a thing or two about survival. Since she was removed from her mother’s home and placed in foster care when she was nine, she’s had to deal with abuse, hunger, and homelessness. But now that she’s eighteen, she’s about to leave Haywood House, the group home for girls where she’s lived for the past four years, and the closest thing to a real home she’s ever known. Will Andy be able to carve out a better life for herself and find the happiness she is searching for?.
My thoughts: Throwaway Girl was a very thought provoking read, covering some heart wrenching issues in such a way that while I certainly connected to Andy emotionally and my heart went out to her, it didn’t leave wanting to curl up into a foetal ball of misery and hopelessness in the corner. Andy called herself a throwaway girl:
“…We are ‘Throwaway girls,’ kids that are too old to be cute and cuddled, too set in our ways, and too old to be saved because the damage has already been done…”
Born Bernice, Andy did not have an easy start to life. She never knew who her father was and her drug addled mother took no care of her; Andy was beaten often, left alone in the flat most of the time and being hungry was part of daily life. Bewildered by her mother and never sure if the nice mother or the bad mother was going to come home Andy finally told a trusted teacher which resulted in her being taken into welfare. She started out in foster homes, then events led her to the streets until finally she was placed in a home. As the story opens Andy is about to leave the home and continue with her life now she has been deemed able to look after herself. Andy relates the story and each chapter alternates between her present and the back story of how she got to the present. She did not have an excellent childhood except for one brief glorious period when she first went into care. Drugs, alcohol, self-harm, suicide, loss and rape all impacted on Andy’s life. Yet despite this she found anchors to keep her head above water and keep on going. She does have a talent – and she does have a dream and it is this which gets her through to the end. She fights for life, she recognises when she is in trouble and takes steps to get out of it – didn’t always happen straight away but she was eventually able to turn around and say no.
I liked Kristine Scarrow’s writing style – she gets the message across without frightening you to death. The book is obviously aimed at a younger market than myself and I think she has done it well keeping the chapters short and resisting the temptation to delve too deeply into the dark moments. By getting Andy to tell her story some of the information can be glossed over to a certain extent as she only shared what she could cope with – almost as if the eighteen year old Andy was detached from her younger self. I liked how despite her hard life and all the terrible things that happened to her Andy had the strength and focus to rise above it and get on with her life instead of blaming it and giving up trying to live decently. There is a happy ending – or should I say a hopeful ending because after so many bad highlights in her life where I just wanted to give her a hug and tell her to hang in there it was so good to leave the book with a future that had so many bright possibilities than the alternative which she could so easily have allowed herself to slide into.
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B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.
With thanks to the Dundurn Group and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.