Today I am pleased to present a debut novel: Tough Girl by Libby Heily. Please read on
About the Book:
Danger lurks everywhere in eleven year old Reggie’s world—from the bully next door to the unwanted attentions of a creep at school. Raised by her mentally ill mother, Reggie is left to fend for herself. She escapes in daydreams, battling aliens with her alter ego, Tough Girl.
When Reggie’s mother disappears, her fantasy life spirals out of control and starts to invade reality. She is hunted by a creature of her own design, and even Tough Girl is not strong enough to stop him.
Will Reggie survive long enough for her mother to return, or will her dream world take over?
In a story that skirts the edges of actually becoming a transgressive fiction work, Tough Girl is both emotionally demanding and disturbing while managing to craft a protagonist that is as admirable as her situation is deplorable.
This is not a “light read” nor should it be taken as such, but there is great beauty and insight within. Part of that beauty comes from the all too realistic depictions of a family on the edge, battling poverty, mental illness and violence: all told from the point of the child.
Meet Reggie, 11 years old with a rich and varied imagination and a serious knack for survival. With a severely mentally ill mother, and little in the way of creature comforts, her escape is into the world of imagination and the creation of her alter ego – Tough Girl, to get her through the worst of times. Descriptive of a disassociative personality disorder, this story details a child crafting a protective shell in times of extreme stress, and relying on that alter ego more frequently as the stressors in her life become too much to handle.
Libby Heily has done an amazing job in crafting this story. With a voice that rings true as an eleven year old, with an amazing innocence and naiveté despite her circumstances, her determination and honest integrity. Additionally, with the increasing presence and voice from Tough Girl, and the confusion that result as the two worlds begin to merge and blur the lines between imagination and reality are detailed with a grace not often found in a book aimed at teens.
Nor do I necessarily believe that this is a book for every reader of YA age – more skewed to the older teens, as there are complex and disturbing elements of subject matter that not all parents would want their young teens exposed to. This is a book well worth reading, laced with symbolism and correlating the trials and struggles between the two worlds, making it a truly worthy commentary on society’s treatment of children of poverty. Disturbing and gritty, with near visceral reactions to some scenes and situations there is a beauty in the lack of apology for the realities detailed within.
I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review in the Indies Rock promotion at I am, Indeed. I was not compensated for this review, and all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I give Tough Girl by Libby Heily 5 out of 5 stars.
About the Author:
I’m a bookworm and a writer, a nerd that’s seen every episode of Farscape and can’t wait for the next Dr. Who Season to begin. I enjoy running and playing sports and am always hopeful the Baltimore Ravens will win a Superbowl. I love movies but don’t care about the Oscars.
I eat apples regularly but find apple juice bitter and don’t like it. I’m a foodie and a beer snob. I eat babies. Okay, just baby carrots.
I studied acting, video production and creative writing. I’ve had very few jobs that reflect any of those years of study. I am Libby Heily, and it’s nice to meet you.