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Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer

Girl Unmoored

by Jennifer Gooch Hummer

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365313,489 (4.75)1



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First Impression: I just need to showcase the fact that I was raised around boys, for a moment. I cannot get over how unfortunate this author's name is. GOOCH HUMMER!? I can't handle it.

That being said, I've heard great things about this book and look forward to continuing on passed the title page now that my juvenile giggling fit is over.
  tealightful | Sep 24, 2013 |
'Girl Unmoored' by Jennifer Gooch Hummer really struck a chord with me. I found myself identifying with Apron Bramhill. Yes, Apron, not April, her father a professor at the local university didn't like the Latin translation of the word April, somehow the name on the birth certificate turned into Apron.

Apron wears her mother's ID band from the hospital, her mother having passes away with cancer. Apron, a middle school student whole world is coming down on her. There was “M” a nurse’s aide living with them. M stood for Margie, her mother’s nurses aide from Brazil. Margie, although she sometimes seemed friendly is not the kind of mother in law that any kid would want. Even Apron’s pet guinea pig was in danger from “M”.

Also, Rennie, her old time girlfriend, who smells like gummy bears, drops her quickly for snobbish and mean excuse for a girl.

Apron also didn’t have the connection to her Grandmother Branhill anymore. Her grandmother was starting to see “little people” where others didn’t. Also grandmother’s boyfriend was getting ready to take her on a cruise. The cruise took all of Grnadmother’s focus.

So Apron is all alone at the worst time, at the time when a girl needs a friend the most. Before the girl friends split, she goes to a presentation of ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar with Rennie’s family.

Later, she met her neighbor’s nephew in a typical Apron way. She, like me, was constantly falling down, tripping on things and she sort of fell into the lives of Michael, who plays Jesus in the play and his best bud or more, Chad. That was a turning point in her desperate and hurtful life.

I love this coming of age book and what I loved the most was not even a coming of age experience. Apron finally had Michael and Chad mothering her, just what she needed.

I highly recommend this wonderful book to everyone who has had or is having a rough life growing up while they were or are in middle school. This is the kind of book that you want to hug. ( )
  Carolee888 | May 25, 2012 |
It’s almost impossible to summarize Jennifer Gooch Hummer’s Girl Unmoored — mostly because this story was so much more than I ever thought it would be, and caused me to feel So Many Emotions I can barely articulate them all. Knowing it deals with loss and grief, I wasn’t sure how maudlin the story would become . . . but in Hummer’s very talented hands, what could have ventured into sad-sack territory somehow left me feeling enlightened and uplifted.

Reflecting on the book, that’s the word that keeps coming back to me: uplifted. Because even a book about death, homophobia, pain and ignorance somehow left me feeling good. And yes, I’m serious — I think it would be nearly impossible to finish Girl Unmoored without some sort of smile on your face. Because Apron? She’s amazing. And I’m feeling amazed by how much I adored this book.

Where was sassy, bright, hilarious, brave and klutzy Apron when I was 13? Because really, girl knows what’s what. Partly because her mother’s terminal illness robbed her of a childhood, I know, but she’s incredible all the same. After all these changes, Apron feels . . . well, unmoored. At least until she meets Mike, a handsome actor portraying the title role in a local theatre’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Apron attends with her judgmental friend Rennie, a simple girl who comes from a deeply religious family. When word gets around that Mike is a little more than “friends” with Chad, and that Chad is has a mysterious illness, proverbial — and literal — stones are cast at them. And Apron — amazing Apron — is somehow the link that holds everyone together.

I can’t tell you why I loved this story so much, but I read parts with my hands shaking and tears streaming down my face. One particularly incredible moment — which I won’t spoil for you — comes near the close of the novel . . . when Apron retrieves a photo of her mother to give to someone in need. When she passes it over and explains why she’s sharing it, I actually felt like my heart was breaking. Like, cracked open on a broken mirror. And it’s been a long time since I felt like a book was breaking through that harsh Meg exterior.

I loved Hummer’s writing and Apron’s unique turns of phrase, especially when she was embarrassed or scared or angry (“My hair is melting,” for instance). I loved Mike and Chad and the pure devotion they had to one another; I even loved Dennis, Apron’s screwed-up, grief-stricken father, because I can’t fault him for what he does and somehow wound up caring deeply for him. Even “M,” Apron’s mother’s nurse-cum-wifely-replacement, had her endearing moments . . . until she said something that made me want to punch her. And then? Then I was glad things worked out as they did. I also loved Dennis’ obsession with Latin and how he instills a passion for it in Apron, and how each chapter opens with a telling phrase that had me wanting to read them all aloud.

Despite all my crying fits, I finished Girl Unmoored feeling like I could spend another 1,000 pages with Apron. Like I wanted to meet up with her a decade later for coffee, chatting about what she’d done with all that curiosity, courage and intellect. Though our narrator is a kid, absolutely nothing about this book is child-like — and I’m not sure how it’s being marketed. Young adult fiction? Coming-of-age drama? Contemporary fiction?

Regardless, readers, lend me your ears (eyes?): read this book. You will feel human and alive. It’s the one I’m going to be touting all year, declaring to others that this is the book we should all be trying to write. And the one we should all want to read. ( )
  writemeg | Apr 19, 2012 |
This is by the same author that wrote the Milk Face blog post. But if you're expecting something like that in this book, don't be. This is a very serious book. Apron is in 7th grade and has lost everything. Her mother died six months ago, her best friend dumped her for a girl that hates Apron and she's lost her father to her pregnant stepmother, a woman whose name she won't say, she just calls her "M".

"M" is from Brazil and was Apron's mother's nurse while she was dying. To say that she is mean, is an understatement. To say that Apron hates her and is trying to show her Dad "M's" true colors is also an understatement. I instantly hated M. She was like poison and then the things she did while she was pregnant, oh, if you've ever been pregnant you will totally despise her. I didn't really connect with Apron, but I did feel sorry for her. She had a lot on her plate, I just wasn't emotionally connected to her.

The novel takes place in the Regan era, when AIDS is first coming to light and people are calling it a disease that only gay people get. But Apron, in an unfortunate mishap at her father's and M's wedding, ends up meeting two floral designers when she gets left behind at the church. She ends up helping them with the floral arrangements and making friends with them. She eventually finds out they are lovers and that one of them, Chad, has full blown AIDS. He's dying. Apron helps them and they help her and eventually she begins working at their shop. This is doubly good for Apron because she can be away from M who is increasingly meaner and demanding.

I fell hard for the characters of Mike and Chad the two lovers who owned the flower shop, Scent Appeal. They took care of Apron when she needed it the most, providing laughs and jokes and even love at a time when Apron was vulnerable and alone. Chad is dying. Apron chronicles it to us with his weight loss, the spots that show up on his skin, the loss of appetite and worse. But instead of being scared, she reads to him, she shows him greater kindness than anyone other than her parents ever showed to her and Chad and Mike become her world. They are the characters I connected with. They were funny, loving, philosophical about the hatred others showed them, and totally giving of themselves to anyone that needed them. They were so comfortable with who they were and what the love meant. I was bawling by the end. And not just because of Chad and Mike.

Something happens between M and Apron's father and the baby that isn't easy to accept. I had long suspected that Apron's father wasn't the father of the baby, but I was wrong. Still things go bad. And then, they are better. Apron definitely grows as a character, learning a lot in one summer. Love, loss, betrayal, and finally happiness. As much as a teen can be happy :)!

It's an emotional rollercoaster. You will cry. You will laugh at Apron's klutzyness and some of her quotes like "Always wear underwear". I think it's good advice! Funny things happen, sad heart wrenching things happen and great life changing things happen. This is a book for anyone that loves YA contemporary fiction.

Thank you to Fiction Studio and Jennifer Gooch Hummer for the review copy from Net Galley.
This in know way influenced my opinion of the novel. ( )
  hrose2931 | Apr 1, 2012 |
From Lilac Wolf and Stuff

Did you see that? The main character is named Apron. And the story behind that was hilarious. She was supposed to be named April but her father disagreed so her mother wrote it on the Birth Certificate so intelligibly that the powers that be thought it said Apron...you'd think someone would have asked!

Apron is a young teenage girl who is waiting to develop. Her mother is out of the picture and her father is shacking up with a nurse aide from Brazil who also hates Apron...although she seems to kind of hate everyone but wants a green card. My heart is breaking for her from the very beginning. To lose your mother when you are already feeling awkward.

If you think that is bad enough, it gets worse. It also gets better. It takes place in the 80s...remember when Aids was new and gay bashing was acceptable behavior. It certainly was a reminder how far we have come...granted not far enough, but still. She befriends a gay couple who are dealing with their own problems, mostly a less than welcoming community.

Seriously give this a read, it was a wonderful story that I just couldn't put it down. I felt a kinship with Apron because I lost my father when I was young and I am quite clumsy too. I could read more about Apron as she grows up. But that isn't how these chick lit books work. ( )
  lilacwolf | Mar 30, 2012 |
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If as we're walkin a hand should slip free
I'll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me
-- Bruce Springsteen
For Mike
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Jesus was in his underwear.
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"Apron Bramhall has come unmoored. Fortunately she's about to be saved by Jesus. Not that Jesus - the actor who plays him in 'Jesus Christ, superstar.' Apron is desperate to avoid the look-alike Mike, who's suddenly everywhere, until she's stuck in church with him one day. Then something happens - Apron's broken heart blinks on for the first time since she's been adrift. Mike and his boyfriend, Chad, offer her a summer job in their flower store, and Apron's world seems to calm. But when she uncovers Chad's secret, stormy seas return. Apron starts to see things the adults around her fail to - like what love really means, and who is paying too much for it. Apron has come unmoored, but now she'll need to take the helm if she's to get herself and those she loves to safe harbor."--P.[4] of cover.… (more)

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