Ever since I read this review of Larger Than Life Lara by Dandi Daley Mackall at A Year of Reading, I have been scouring the library for a copy of the book. Unfortunately, someone loved the book as much as I did and held on to it for themselves. All I can hope was that the someone was a preteen learning more about themselves and the students around them.
It is well known that teenagers can be cruel. But did you know that preteens, say those aged 4th to 6th grade, can be just as cruel and often don't even originally know what they are doing is bullying? I see this scenario day in and day out. Fifth grade boys and girls who are so wrapped up in their own world, that they do not even stop for a moment to think the thoughts they are thinking and or saying may be considered cruel and unusual punishment to others around them.
In an unconventional way, Mackall uses her main character, Laney Grafton, as a first person narrator who not only tells us the heart wrenching story of the new classmate Lara Phelps but also explains the elements of writing a good story at the same time. As the story begins, Lara has arrived at the school and the students are stunned because she is so different from them. So different as in weighing 300 or so pounds. The story follows the relentless teasing of the classmates on Lara. (Dubbed Larger than Life Lara) It continues through the whole story to the point where you think there will be no ending.
The story shows the true nature of the preteen with all its warts, but also all its heart as well. I wept uncontrollably because I have seen this scenario play out so many times in so many different ways. I do not have children of my own, but if I ever do, I hope I can raise them with enough tolerance and dignity to realize everyone is a shining star in some way. We all just need to decide how we are going to help one another let that star shine.
My Breakfast Platter