The brace looks like the one Dr. Kliner showed us three weeks later. It's the ugliest thing I ever saw.
I have to give the story credit - to my adult mind this vintage YA is still five stars.
I read it at least three times growing up, but reading again was not boring in the slightest. Some of it came back to me, most I'd forgotten. It starts a little awkward but settles in fast thanks to Judy Blume's talented hand. She keeps the wording simple and the sentences short, but she's able to convey a wide range of emotion in doing this.
Deenie would be an invaluable book for someone that age having to struggle with the diagnosis of scoliosis and wearing that life-changing brace for four years - it's inspirational, it feels real, and it's encouraging. Deenie isn't perfect - Blume rarely writes characters who are - but the short hand she's dealt in life does have the positive purpose of transforming her outlook on other people who also have issues. It changes the way she sees Barbara with her eczema, the 'special needs kids', and the elderly woman with the hunchback.
I know some may see this as a condition she received to teach her a lesson, that there are those different from her, but I prefer to think the author meant that by a coincidence Deenie was able to open her eyes further when she herself receives the unsettling diagnosis. I don't think the event was created to make Deenie change - I just think the author showed how events like this can make people change in positive ways.
Masturbation isn't discussed too much, but it's brought up a few times, including Deenie writing an anonymous question about it to the gym coach. I'm so saddened this book has been banned before because it discusses this just to say there's no shame. In 2004, the American Library Association labeled Blume the second most censored author in the past 15 years. Here is a good article discussing the issues of why Deenie has been so banned. Read these endearing children's letters about this and the aftermath to Judy Blume on this website, it was illuminating.
Do normal people touch their bodies before they go to sleep and it is all right to do that? (p 82)
Blume could have just written about an average girl getting scoliosis, but she threw in another issue some teens will relate to - parents who try to shape their kids into what they want them to be. Mothers who separate children by talents. "Deenie's the beauty, Helen's the brain." In fact, Blume based the inspiration off of meeting a 14 year old girl who wore a brace and was adjusting, but her mother was the one on tears and coping poorly.
The book wins because it's not focusing on a certain condition, but an unchangeable event that will make a kid feel even more different than they already do. It touches briefly upon (and it was amusing really) masturbation and questions about this as well. It shows how some people stand out as different due to conditions, but that everyone is still the same and to be treated well.
It's a short book but it holds a powerful punch. Especially great for teenage minds who already feel isolated because of their age and those pesky hormones.