Tuesday, March 10, 2009

'The Day After Tomorrow' by Sandee Sgarlata

Being a mother of a 10-year-old girl I am often tormented by constantly lowered standards teenage girls live by in today’s world. My girl’s puberty approaches fast, faster than I would like to and I find myself concerned about what direction she’ll move towards when the time comes. That’s why I already read YA books as a kind of motherly censorship. I want to know what will be appropriate for her to read and at what age she should read certain books. This is not to say that I will put restraints on her reading choices, merely that I want to be aware of what is out there in a reading world and what attitude she might want to take on while picking up certain books. For this reason I decided to read Sandee Sgarlata’s The Day After Tomorrow.
The Day After Tomorrow is a short book, a novella of sorts, in which a 15-year-old Julia Monroe goes through what might seem normal trials and tribulations of teenagers. She is starting junior high troubled by fear of rejection by her peers, anxious about her relationship with a first boyfriend and conflicted about her feelings towards her parents, especially her mom. All these issues come to a halt when she is involved in an accident. What happens next changes Julia’s outlook on her life, people around her and things that are truly important.
I liked the idea of the book. The author nicely portrays what teenage girls go through nowadays. Julia is a very self-conscious girl who finds fault in everything about her, her self-esteem is starting to falter and she seems to have problems finding her own identity. It pretty much is what I imagine teenagers to experience and it is not something any mother wants her kids to go through. Ms. Sgarlata offers girls a way out, an antidote to their society’s demands. Julia learns that forgiveness is important, especially towards herself, that she does not have to feel misunderstood and that acceptance and appreciation of who she is are the tools designed to help her in the confusing world of adolescence.
There were some slight discrepancies in the story, like Julia's age being 15 for the first half of the book and 14 for the second, while the action takes place entirely in the present. The language is simple, sometimes maybe a little too simple. I understand that it is a book for teenagers but if reading is supposed to teach them anything, I should think that they have a right to a little bit more elaborate writing. Having written that, I think that The Day After Tomorrow is a good and important book for girls to get acquainted with and Ms. Sgarlata should be applauded for giving them the option of reading something other than books perpetuating the unreal image of a perfect Barbie doll.