Book Review of Tough Girl by Libby Heily

Posted January 10, 2013 by Kara in Uncategorized / 13 Comments

Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: January 14th, 2013
Pages: 250
Genre: Young Adult
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb: 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?

This book contains adult themes and adult language.

Review:  This was a tough book for me to read. In some ways it really hit home for me. Bullying was a major theme in Tough Girl, and it’s difficult for me to admit it, but I was bullied in middle school. Even today as an adult, it’s still kind of hard to go into detail about and not many people know what happened to me. It continued into high school a bit, but with a different person. I eventually moved away, but before I did that, I fought back and got revenge (anonymously) against my attacker. What I did wasn’t right, but it sure made me feel better. The point of this is, this book was kind of difficult for me to read in spots. I’ve been where Reggie was. I didn’t live in a tough neighborhood and I didn’t have neglectful parents like hers, but I know what bullying is. And because of that, I would never, EVER think for a second of bullying another human being. The idea makes me sick.

The problem I had with Tough Girl though is the lack of emotional connection I felt. To the story, to Reggie, to anything really. I could relate to some of what was going on, but I never really felt like I knew Reggie and I never felt connected to her or the things that were going on in her life. I appreciated her voice as a character, because I thought that was handled and written in a very skilled manner. I did, at times, feel like she was older than eleven, but I think perhaps that was the author’s intent. These kids in this neighborhood were forced to grow up fast, especially Reggie, since her mother was pretty much in her own world and unable to parent. I did like Reggie, I just felt like the author may have been holding back from making this too emotional of a storyline, and I feel like that was a mistake. The potential that was there to make this a really painful read was there, and I don’t think it was taken as far as it could go.

So I’m conflicted. Because I do think it made an impact on me and I liked it. But I also didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have. Towards the middle of the novel when you start to question what is real and what isn’t, the book sort of lost me. And it’s totally a personal preference, but that kind of book rarely works for me. I felt it was confusing at times, and though the characters were well-written, I just wasn’t finding myself loving it as much as I wanted to. It’s weird when you have to critique something but you don’t really know what to say because you liked parts of it but others you didn’t, and when you try to quantify why something didn’t work for you and the words just won’t come, well that’s a pain in the ass.

One thing I can say that I didn’t care for was how the book ended. It was too abrupt for me, anti-climactic, and the author told me what happened by summarizing instead of showing me. It happened too fast and there was not enough time to build up to the ending. It just kind of…ended.

Ultimately, I guess it was just not a ME book. It was written in a style I liked with well-developed characters, but I felt a little disconnected from everything. I think it covers a number of important topics (bullying, neglectful parents, mental illness, etc.) and handles them really well. I just was never really sure where the author was going with the story, and I was never really sure what exactly the plot was supposed to be. If you are a fan of books about tough topics, I think you might like this. There is a lot of value in this book, I just don’t think it was the type of book I normally enjoy reading. I will say that the author is extremely nice and sent me a wonderful request for this novel that was personalized and meant a great deal to me. I wish all authors could be that polite and respectful.

3/5 Dragons

13 responses to “Book Review of Tough Girl by Libby Heily

  1. Oh my goodness, this sounds good. I was bullied in high school, and like you, it’s difficult to talk about. But through that I find myself connecting to stories like this, and now I really want to read it. It’s too bad that click wasn’t there for you to push this one to a 4 or 5 but I’m happy that you enjoyed it nonetheless. I hadn’t heard of this one before but I will be keeping my eye on it.

    Oh and yay for the awesome review request! I love getting ones where I can tell they really checked into who I am.

    • I’m so glad my review made you want to read it. Bullying is a terrible thing for anyone to go through and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I did enjoy this book, but you are right. It was missing that extra push to make it a fabulous read for me,

      Yeah, I love those kinds of review requests. It makes what I do worthwhile.

  2. Amy

    This sounds really good. I was never bullied, but I had friends who were and it was hard to watch what it did to them. (I did stand up to the bullies for them, but it didn’t stop it from happening, knowing what I know now, I may have made it worse by trying to help.) It’s too bad that you didn’t fully connect with this. I really love great review requests too. It’s nice when an author takes the time to actually try to get to know who you are a bit. Great review hon!

  3. Oh wow this sounds really good. I had a really hard time in middle school too so I know how you feel. I’ve never gotten revenge though but god that would feel good! Ha! I’m kind of curious to what you did >.< So is it confusing as in a mind-fuck kind of read? Or does it just get wacky? I’m not big on abrupt endings though but overall I think I’d really like this!!

    • Yeah, I think you might like this one, Giselle. I will tell you what I did. The girl that bullied me all through middle school and 9th grade finally got hers before I moved away in 10th. I pasted her yearbook photo on a bunch of pig and cow printouts, made copies, and distributed them all throughout the high school. I feel bad about it as an adult, but man it made me feel good to even see her boyfriend laughing over it with one of the copies in his hand.

      But this is a mindfuck type of read. Which is why I think you will like it.

  4. Your blog just deleted my paragraph long comment. GRRRRRRR.

    I was talking about emotional connection, and how I’ve been struggling with that in 2013. Wahh!

    • YES! Me too. For me, I think it is because I have gotten so technical with my reading. I look at it all from a mechanical/editing POV and less from an emotional one. This makes reading a less fun experience and I think it ruins the emotional connection for me sometimes. Sucks, but I have to get used to it. This is the way I read now.

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