High school junior Matt Donaghy is considered an okay guy. He gets good grades, writes for the school paper, is in the Drama Club, and is known for his witty, if immature, humor.
Students and teachers seem to like him. But one day he says something that makes a few classmates think he's out to bomb the school. The school principal is notified, the police are called in, and rumors are abuzz. Even his buddies doubt his innocence, and none of the guys come forward in his defense. There is, however, someone else who overheard Matt's statement and understood his mocking intent.
School renegade Ursula Riggs, or "Ugly Girl" as she refers to herself, doesn't know Matt very well but reveals what she heard and the context in which it was said -- even though her parents instruct her to mind her own business. But even if Ursula can help Matt clear up this misunderstanding, will life at Rocky River High School ever be the same again? In her first novel for young adults, acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates delivers a striking story about friendship, family, community, support, betrayal, and self-confidence. This powerful novel makes us think carefully about what we say, to whom we say it, and what we mean.
After closing this book, you'll ask yourself the same question I did: What if I'd said such a thing? Michele D. Goodre helps you keep track of books you want to read.
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Big mouth & ugly girl
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Sort order. Start your review of Big Mouth and Ugly Girl. Nov 07, Valerie rated it liked it Recommended to Valerie by: Kim. Shelves: young-adult. Walls that protect her from the insensitivity of others including her own disinterested familyand from changes and emotions that she doesn't want to or can't deal with in her life.
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Ugly Girl isn't afraid of anyone, and doesn't care what anyone thinks about her. She has black or fiery moods, and depends on no one but herself. She's a Warrior. When Big Mouth "innocently" jokes about bombing his school, he quickly learns the consequences of speaking without thinking, and sees his life turned upside-down as he's suspended from mouth and investigated by the police. He learns who his real friends are. Strangely enough, one of them turns out to be Ugly Girl.
As she comes to his aid, they learn a lot from each other. Ursula, a loner, reaches out to Matt to do what she believes is right. And in turn, Matt reaches back and helps Ursula to reconnect with things and people that she's summary behind. In this novel - written for young adults by Joyce Carol Oates - everything extraneous is stripped away as two unlikely friends figure out what really matters, and they change from kids to young adults and not the easy way. I thought it was pretty well-written, although at times Oates' terminology and Big seemed more like how she thought ugly school students would act and speak rather than how they really would sometimes the dialogue seemed a little stilted to me.
Also, I found it a little lacking in depth, and the story-lines wrapped up somewhat tidily at the end. I think that in a really good young adult novel, these issues can be dealt with in a way that doesn't seem like the author is taking things down a notch for the audience teens rather than adults and I found this novel wasn't quite at that level. I also wish Matt's character had been better developed, because Ursula's character pretty much blew him out of the water. There were definitely gems, though.
I loved this part, by Ugly Girl: Life consist of facts, and facts are of two kinds: Boring, and Crucial. I figured this out for myself in eighth grade. Wish I could patent it!
A Boring Fact is virtually any fact that doesn't concern you. Or it's just trivial. A nothing fact. Like the annual rainfall in, let's say, Bolivia. Crucial to the Bolivians, but Boring to everyone else. Yet, to Ugly Girl, they are Crucial. There's one test of a Crucial Fact: It hurts. All in all, a pretty good coming-of-age novel dealing with freedom or the lack of speech, and the ramifications of speaking carelessly in a world of zero-tolerance policies.
Nov 21, Jessica rated it it was amazing. Give this book to every tween and teen you know.
Review of "big mouth & ugly girl"
Adults, you should read it too. You know that teenage experience of feeling totally alone and different from everyone around you but then as an adult you realize everyone was feeling that way and so you were all actually together in that aloneness? This book e Give this book to every tween and teen you know.
This book explores that experience with kindness and sympathy. It's a book I wish I'd had at that age. Ugly Girl is accepted by some and rejected by most at her school, but her awesomeness is readily apparent to readers, and that's not because this book carries the trite, ham-fisted message to be nice to the outcasts, they are people too! It's because Joyce Carol Oates is so skilled at laying out the intricacies of Ugly Girl's personality in a subtle and truthful way -- from her fierce devotion to doing the right thing to her shaky, but deep confidence despite an outward uncertainty.
Please read it, and remember that the teenagers you know have inner lives just as complex as any adult. Good YA, nothing special, unnecessarily complicated writing style at times.