Girl on the Other Side by Deborah Kerbel
Publisher: Dundurn Press
Pub. Date: October 30, 2009
Age Level: 12-13+
Tabby Freeman and Lora Froggett go to the same school, but they live in totally opposite worlds. Tabby is rich, pretty, and the most popular girl in her class. But behind closed doors, her 'perfect' life is rapidly coming apart at the seams.
On the other side, Lora is smart, timid, and the constant target of bullies. While struggling to survive the piranha-infested halls of her school, she becomes increasingly nervous that somebody might discover the unbearable truth about what's been happening to her family.
Despite their differences, Tabby and Lora have something in common - they're both harbouring dark secrets and a lot of pain. Although they've never been friends, a series of strange events causes their lives to crash together in ways neither could have ever imagined. And when the dust finally settles and all their secrets are forced out into the light, will the girls be saved or destroyed?
After addressing the issue of cultural differences in Mackenzie, Lost and Found, Deborah Kerbel goes on to tackle the problem of bullying and social differences in Girl on the Other Side, her second novel for young adults. It is the powerful, gripping story of how two vastly different girls' lives collide and change forever.
Tabby and Lora were such utterly realistic and genuinely depicted characters that they could have easily been actual people. They were both very complex with neither of them being at all how they first appeared. I formed an instant connection and understanding with them, especially Lora. However, I was most intrigued by Tabby who surprised me with her slightly resentful feelings towards her own wealth and social status. She was far from the happy, care-free girl I was expecting, instead having her own share of sadness. Tabby and Lora are perfect examples of just how deceiving appearances can be.
And speaking of deceiving appearances, for such a small book in both size and length, Girl on the Other Side sure packs a punch. I found myself surprised by its depth, though I really shouldn't have been after having read Kerbel's first book. Girl on the Other Side was fast paced and even suspenseful, though not in the usual sense of the word. I was given only a taste at a time of what was going to happen next and still left wondering how, compelling me to continue until reaching the end.
Bullying is a swiftly spreading problem in both schools and online. Girl on the Other Side's portrayal of bullying, and the lives of those involved, is so believable in not only dialogue, but in context as well. Kerbel wrote in such a way that I found the emotions and thoughts of the girls instantly familiar to me. It was so insightful to see how differently each girl viewed the same people and situations. Her use of imagery was also a great aspect of this book with everything being so well described that I could instantly form a mental image of it all, particularly the girls. I really couldn't have asked for more.
Girl on the Other Side had a beautiful, though slightly unexpected, ending. Normally when I read a shorter book, by the end I'm still left feeling like there could have been another good 50 or more pages. That was not the case with this one which actually felt longer than what it was. I was surprised by how perfectly everything fit into only 148 pages of actual story. I also felt the poems at the end were a great finishing touch.
Girl on the Other Side is an engaging and insightful story that I would recommend to anyone and everyone. Deborah Kerbel definitely has a knack for writing about the real and important issues in life and still making the story an enjoyable one. Though she's only written two book so far, I believe it is safe to say that she is definitely one of my favorite authors now. If you haven't read one of her books then you need to run, not walk, to the nearest book store or library and pick one up.
You can read my review of Mackenzie, Lost and Found HERE.
Visit Deborah Kerbel's website HERE.