Performancing Metrics

There's A Book

Trauma Queen by Barbara Dee

Published by Aladdin (Division of Simon & Schuster)

Pages: 272

Ages: 9-12

Publishers Summary: Every tween girl knows what it’s like to have a mom who can be a little embarrasing at times. But for Marigold, it goes way beyond embarrassing. Marigold’s single mom is a performance artist, meaning she stages dramatic, wacky performances to express her personal beliefs. Things like wrapping herself in saran wrap for a piece on plastic surgery, or inviting people over in the middle of the night to videotape her sleeping. In fact, Marigold’s mom’s performances caused such a ruckus in their last town that the two of them, along with Marigold’s little sister, have just had to move. Now Marigold’s starting a new school, missing her best friend like crazy, and trying to fit in all over again in the shadow of a mom who’s famous for all the wrong reasons. As if that’s not bad enough, Marigold’s mom takes on a new job–teaching drama at Marigold’s school! Now all the kids know instantly just how weird her mom is, and Marigold’s worried she’ll never be able to have a friendship that can survive her mother.

Marigold’s mom is the star of the show. Which show? Well, that’s another thing entirely. Her stage is anywhere and everywhere, however and whenever the thought strikes her. Sometimes it’s a spur of the moment event, but more often it’s planned and absolutely crazy. At least in the opinion of her daughter Marigold, who is just now at that stage in life where everyone takes notice of all those little quirky things that used to just be funny. So, needless to say, a personal performance with her best friends mom, a resulting move, a Wikipedia page and now her mom teaching at her school is just not the kind of attention Marigold is hoping for. What’s a tween to do with a mom who’s constantly stealing the show? And not in a good way either.

First of all, I have to say I absolutely adore Barbara Dee and her writing. Because I read a decent amount of middle grade fiction I’ve seen my fair share of characters who are either too young or too old for their age. Barbara has a knack for knowing exactly how it is during those awkward, ever-changing years as a tween and even better than that, she knows how to put that know-how on paper. Never once while reading her books have I thought the character was too much of anything, each is perfectly balanced and exactly what you’d expect from a tween. It’s superb! I highly recommend every one of her books, but I think so far, Trauma Queen has been my favorite.

So, what exactly about Trauma Queen did I like so much? Obviously the characters were huge for me, but Marigold in particular was wonderful. As an adult I’ve forgotten that feeling of always being right, not that I don’t still get like that from time to time, but as a tween it’s definitely more focused. It’s that feeling that your parents are out to destroy your every chance at “normal” and that they just don’t understand that you know what’s best, not them. I definitely remember that, but it was great to see how Barbara addressed it through Marigold and her relationship with her mother. Marigold constantly feels her mother is “out to get her” with every performance and interaction she makes outside of their home. Granted her mom doesn’t have the best track record, but even once her mother seeks to rectify the situation it’s still incredibly difficult for Marigold to accept her. I won’t give away the ending, but it was wonderful to watch Marigold grow and learn in this way; definitely brought back some tough memories of my own.

In addition to the cast of amazing characters, I also loved the underlying theme of individuality that ran throughout the book. It’s evident Marigold’s mom is extremely focused on expressing yourself in whatever way you feel fits you, but she doesn’t always understand her quiet daughter. Marigold is quite the opposite of her mother, very even keel and not particularly flamboyant. She also is still at the age in life when you haven’t decided who you are or what you want to be. What am I saying? I still haven’t figured that out with complete certainty. But for Marigold, she’s still trying to figure out if there’s even an extra-circular activity she loves. As the story continues she struggles to separate herself from her mother and be her own person. I loved how even though her mom and her didn’t always see eye to eye, it was her mother that still encouraged her to try new things and be happy where ever she is (even if her methods were a bit odd at times).

Trauma Queen is one of those reads that will appeal to readers across the board. You don’t need to be ten years old or have a tween in your home to appreciate Barbara Dee’s writing. Almost everyone will be able to relate to those feelings illustrated through Marigold as she fights to strike out on her own, even if your own mother was not quite so outlandish. Take a walk in Marigold’s shoes and remember what it was like to feel like your parents are out to get your social standing with your peers. For tween readers this story will be of great comfort, have them laughing through each chapter and possibly even learning to be a bit more forgiving when it comes to their own parents. Another favorite of mine from the fabulous author Barbara Dee.

The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 8 and up. Readers young and old will love Marigold and her eccentric mother. Learn to look through the eyes of a tween who’s life is anything but typical.

Trauma Queen by Barbara Dee is available at the following spots:
For the Kindle
Powell’s Books
Barnes & Noble

Trauma Queen fab giveaway!

Three lucky winners will receive one copy of TRAUMA QUEEN by Barbara Dee along with a limited edition t-shirt! To enter, send an e-mail to In the body of the e-mail, include your name and e-mail address (if you’re under 13, have a parent enter for you). One entry per person and prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on 5/13/11. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on 5/14/11 and notified via email.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Aladdin, for providing a copy of this book for review via Galley Grab! Find them on Twitter and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

5 Responses to Book Review: Trauma Queen by Barbara Dee

  1. Pam says:

    I absolutely loved this book! I reviewed it last week. Such a fun read. It’s my first Barbara Dee book but I plan on reading more.

  2. Cute review. It sounds good.

  3. Have to say it again — my daughter wants a ride on the hot air balloon in the background of your blog 🙂

  4. Barbara Dee says:

    Thanks you, Danielle, for such an incredible review!!

  5. This sounds so fantastic I have always loved Middle Grade reads!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *