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SAY THE WORD

Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1st edition (February 15, 2011)

Who is the “real” Shawna Gallagher?

“Perfect” Shawna, a mature, responsible high school senior who caters to her controlling father, and plans to attend medical school instead of exploring her talent as an artist?

“Pathetic” Shawna, who still stings from the betrayal of her former best friend, and lusts painfully after a guy who’s obviously out for one thing?

Or “Evil” Shawna, whose unexpected snarky comments make the other Shawnas shrivel with embarrassment, and who resents the fact that her estranged, openly gay mom deserted her years ago?

Her life explodes when her mom suddenly dies, leaving behind a long-time lover, Fran, and Fran’s two sons. Seventeen-year-old Arye makes no attempt to hide his disdain for Shawna, while his quirky little brother Schmule takes an inexplicable liking to her—two “stepbrothers” who knew and loved Shawna’s mom in a way she never had a chance to.

When Shawna discovers the secret of Schmule’s origin, the chain of events that follow lead to a “new” Shawna who questions everything she once took for granted: her desire to be perfect, her sexuality, the meaning of friendship—and even her love for her father whose single act of violence she can’t forget.

REVIEWS

*Starred Review* from BOOKLIST: "...There are many issues at play in this powerful and compelling novel—gay rights, acceptance, shame, first love, domestic violence, harassment, depression—all swirling around Shawna, whose thoughts and emotions are not always politically correct, but are always genuine. This sensitive and heart-wrenching story slowly unfolds into a gripping read featuring realistically flawed characters who undergo genuine growth."

"An intense, frank novel with fragile, resilient, believable characters...this is a mature and gripping coming-of-age story.” – School Library Journal

“Garsee manages to give every character depth and dimension without falling into the trap of making the children too perfect and angelic and the adults imperfect to the point where the reader loses sympathy for them,... Readers will believe Shawna’s final transition from doormat to independent thinker.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Garsee’s second novel hits the ground running and doesn’t let up. ... A compelling portrait of a young woman growing up and coping with an overwhelming array of problems.” – Publishers Weekly

From the Publisher: "Shawna’s honest and relatable voice will draw readers in and hold them until the last page in this coming-of-age story. Jeannine Garsee has delivered a compulsively readable second novel, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Laurie Halse Anderson."

"This well-written novel raises intricate questions about sexuality, family and the stigmas both can carry. Shawna's journey is emotionally evocative and thought-provoking." – Romantic Times Magazine

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