Larger Than Life Lara by Dandi Daley Mackall Review

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Synopsis: This isn’t about me. This story, I mean. So already you got a reason to hang it up. At least that’s what Mrs. Smith, our English teacher, says.

But the story is about ten-year-old Laney Grafton and the new girl in her class–Lara Phelps, whom everyone bullies from the minute she shows up. Laney is just relieved to have someone else as a target of bullying. But instead of acting the way a bullied kid normally acts, this new girl returns kindness for a meanness that intensifies . . . until nobody remains unchanged, not even the reader.

In a unique and multi-layered story, with equal parts humor and angst, Laney communicates the art of storytelling as it happens, with chapter headings, such as: Character, Setting, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax. And she weaves an unforgettable tale of a new girl who transforms an entire class and, in the process, reveals the best and worst in all of us.

My Thoughts: This book pulled at my heartstrings and is a story that will stay with me. It is narrated by Laney, a 10 year old girl who is extremely bright and witty and instantly likable. Laney has a very difficult home life and although she tends to gloss over some of the details, it’s clear that she is not treated well. A new girl named Lara comes to Laney’s school and is instantly targeted by the entire class because of her size. To Laney and the other kids’ surprise, Lara seems to let all the ridicule slide off  and takes the “kill them with kindness” approach.

First of all, I loved Laney…she is very honest about everything she sees and the reader can see the pain she feels, even when she tries to disguise it. Lara is also a lovely character…she “lets her light shine” in the face of adversity and strives to make people feel better about themselves even as they taunt her.

There are some very raw and sad moments in this story but I think it accurately portrays how cruel children (and adults) can be. It also shows the consequences for our actions…although this story ends with lessons being learned, it’s not a completely happy ending, it’s very realistic.

I highly recommend this book for kids ages 8 and up, there is eluding to cursing and alcoholism as well as abuse.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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