Flip-flop girl ISBN: 9780140375916
Published by Puffin, 1996
Vinnie's father has just died of cancer. Her five year old brother Mason has become an elective mute and is refusing to eat. Because the family has very little money, they must got to Virginia to live with grandma, leaving their home and all Vinnie's friends behind. Vinnie hates her grandma's house and her new school, hates Mason's behavioural problems and sometimes hates her grandma too. The one redeeming feature is Mr. Clayton, her new teacher. He is warmly sympathetic, and soon Vinnie finds herself loving him. Someday, she thinks, she will marry him. Mr. Clayton is also kind to another girl in the class - Lupe, the flip-flop girl. Lupe is very different, a loner who dresses oddly and is very self-contained. She and Vinnie become friends of sorts. Mason continues to be very disruptive in his class, and Vinnie believes he gets all the attention at home because of his problems. Scarce resources are spent on specialists who cannot help him. But it is when Mr. Clayton gets married and Vinnie feels betrayed that she finally goes over the top. It is Lupe who gets blamed for what Vinnie has done, and it is also Lupe who saves Mason when he is in danger. The shock of this brings Mason's voice back, and when Vinnie admits to Lupe and Mr. Clayton how wrong she has been, there is hope for growth. An exceedingly well-crafted novel.