Unbecoming – Jenny Downham

Unbecoming – Jenny Downham

Unbecoming is a story that spans three generations, exploring the lives and the secrets of Mary (a grandmother), Catherine (a mother), and Katie (a daughter). The story begins at the end of Mary’s life, as she struggles with the onset of dementia and bonds with her granddaughter, Katie over their efforts to capture and contain Mary’s memories. Meanwhile, Katie is struggling with problems of her own; she’s kissed a girl- her best friend. She is terrified of what this means and how to deal with rumors at school and her constantly hovering mother.
I found this story to be a diamond in the ruff and different from other YA literature out there. It was so awesome to read a story, written for young people that talks about what growing older might really feel like. What does it feel like to lose your memories? How does your perspective on life change? Do you still get to fall in love or be adventurous or make mistakes? I don’t think I’ve ever read any book that talks so openly and authentically from this perspective. I found myself falling in love with the character of Mary. She is vibrant and full of life, spicy and even a little sexy; she is everything we expect the elderly have grown out of, or never knew in the first place. I also really loved Katie’s story. She is struggling to find herself and her voice, worried about how she is seen by her peers and learning to be brave. I felt so much of my teenage self in her struggles and I think most readers will be relating and cheering her on, just like I was. Overall, I got so much pleasure from ALL the characters in this book. Jenny Downham did such a good job of making them interesting and well rounded! I would recommend this book to just about anybody.

Unbecoming Book Cover Unbecoming
Jenny Downham
Young Adult
David Fickling Books/Scholastic Inc.,
2015
Available in hardcover, paperback, audio and ebook formats
375 (hardcover)

Life has just become very complicated for seventeen-year-old Katie; her father walked out a year ago, her mother is stressed out, her brother is a "special needs" teenager, and she is caring for the maternal grandmother she has never met, who is suffering from Alzheimer's--and Katie has a secret of her own that she cannot reveal.

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