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The Worst Thing She Ever Did by Alice Kuipers


The Worst Thing She Ever Did by Alice Kuipers

Summer is the busiest time of the year at Parry Sound Books. Our reputation has been earned by our excellent customer service, the knowledge and efficiency of our staff, and the great selection of books that we offer to our customers. In order to do this we read a lot of books! We read some boring books and some books that make us wonder why they were ever published – but we also read many good books and a few really great books – we then choose the very best to recommend to our customers.

One of the very best books for teens, new this summer, is The Worst Thing She Ever Did by Alice Kuipers.

We meet Sophie Baxter, living in a suburb of London, England. In most ways she is a normal teenager with the typical teenage concerns about school, clothes, girl friends, parents, and boys, smoking, drinking, drugs and sex. But Sophie appears to have some other issues on her mind. We discover that Sophie is mourning the death of her sister, Emily, sometime recently – before summer holidays from school. And now that school has started again some people are avoiding her - because they do not know how to behave in the face of her grief. Even her best friends don’t know what to say. Others expect her to “get over it” “to move on”. But Sophie is incapable of getting over it, or of moving on.

Against her will Sophie is seeing a counselor once a week – and although she will not talk about her grief she does begin to write a diary and it is the dairy that we are reading. We follow Sophie through a year of transition during which she experiences the “normal” course of grief. She experiences a roller coaster of emotions, and panic attacks that she does not understand. She is sleepless, or if she does sleep she has nightmares. Most often she feels numb, and disconnected from those around her. All the normal aspects of grief – and all the while she goes through the motions, at home and at school.

This is a year of growing up for Sophie and of a growing awareness of both the beauty and the tragedy that is life. The behavior of Sophie’s friends, and of Sophie’s mother as she faces the grief of losing one daughter and the distress about the condition of the other, is absolutely realistic. Alice Kuipers has captured it all so perfectly.

Although Alice Kuipers now lives in Saskatoon she was born and raised in London, England. She is the wife of Canadian novelist Yann Martel. Alice Kuipers writes, "While I was finishing my masters degree, I was running a book shop and I fell in love with a Canadian and about five weeks later I moved to a place called Saskatoon, which I'd never heard of."

The Worst Thing She Ever Did is Alice Kuipers first novel for teenage readers. It is one of the most understanding and compassionate books for teenage girls that I have ever read. It has just the right mix of serious and lighthearted content. The voice of the teenage girl succeeds at being both literate and contemporary. This is a novel that I recommend to teenagers, teachers and parents.

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