Rating: 3 out of 5
Short Form Review: Fourteen-year-old Nikki can’t catch a break, moving from one dysfunctional home to another, and constantly being let down by the adults in her life. This book is a page turner, but will leave readers wondering if there’s any hope at all for her future.
In Little Miss Somebody, fourteen-year- old Nikki’s life is anything but easy. Born to an alcoholic mother in a family riddled with substance abuse issues, she’s merely the youngest the a multi-generational cycle of dysfunction.
Little Miss Somebody begins by throwing us into the realities of life for a young, intelligent teenager in the roughest parts of St. Louis. West Florissant? Any politically aware American recognizes these neighborhoods from late night live shots on their choice news channel. We’ve seen this place before. Throughout the book, author Christy Lynn Abram does a great job of reminding us of that. The fact that these are the same street names and neighborhoods from the Michael Brown case makes the setting all the more real. Not only do readers know these streets, but they know the horrors that happen on them, too.
Her problems are not isolated to those on the streets. Trying to navigate her early teen years, she looks to her mother for support and love, only getting drunken beatings and abandonment for days at a time. Nikki’s grandmother is her solace, dropping her a spare $20 bill during the days when her mother is gallivanting with her latest man.
Little Miss Somebody is not an easy read– it’s not supposed to be. Readers watch young Nikki lose her virginity to an older boy, and they see her sexually assaulted. She writes to God in her journal, praying for better, but better never seems to arrive. It’s sad, but within Nikki’s story, there is the potential for larger commentary about societal issues surrounding rape, drugs, and poverty.
To be honest, this isn’t normally the type of book I’d read, but I’m happy I gave it a shot. I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars, because it could have better balanced Nikki’s painful past and present with a hopeful future. People in St. Louis live Nikki’s life every day. In fact, people live this way in my own city. I have worked with children like Nikki, and I wanted to feel as though there was hope for them.Perhaps that’s childish or simple of me, but so be it. Instead, I was left with hardened cynicism about Nikki’s situation, and with little hope that the next book will be anything more than a continuation of the sadness.
Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review