Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez

The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez (by Judy Goldschmidt) has stolen my heart.

Raisin's entry into seventh-grade does not go well. First, she is forced to move from Berkeley to Pennsylvania because of her parents' divorce. (As a displaced Californian myself I feel her pain!) Her mom's new husband, Horace, is a total dork and she inherits a new stepsister and a cross-dressing dog.

Raisin starts a blog ( to communicate with her best friends at home, Pia and Claudia. This technique works really well in a book for tween girls. Raisin's voice is so strong you feel you know her. In her blog, Raisin chronicles her (admittedly lame) attempts to join in with the popular crowd, her crush on the mysterious CJ, and the horrors of her first period (with an excellent shout-out to Margaret). You know what will happen and it does. Some kid finds her blog, prints it out, and distributes it widely. Even the cafeteria lady quotes from it. Raisin sort-of triumphs in the end in a spunky way all her own. I should be grading papers right now, but I couldn't put The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez down.

The good:

**Raisin! What a great character with an original, yet familiar voice. She's like many smart 13-year-olds with a talent for writing and dramatic behavior. You want to hug and slap her at the same time. Most of all, though, the reader admires her for her ability to wake up the next day and deal with the drama she's created.
**Berkeley details. As a former Berkeley student myself, I loved the yoga instructor dad, the middle school campout with tofu burgers, and the earnest parenting techniques of the granola set.
**Goldschmidt's writing. She really became a smart 13-year-old girl. A snappy, snarky, and yet still innocent and accepting 13-year-old girl.
**The "sort-of" triumph in the end. Everything doesn't work out exactly as Raisin had hoped, but it is still okay and interesting and she'll deal just fine.

The bad:

**Well not much. I did want to know a lot more about Pia and Claudia who comment on Raisin's blog. Maybe they'll be in the sequel.