Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Deenie is a first-person narrative told through the eyes of Wilmadeenie Fenner. It is a fast-paced novel about relationships between Deenie and her friends Midge, Janet, and Buddy Brader and her family, particularly Ma and Daddy. The novel could occur anywhere in the United States, but it is set in suburban New York City. Deenie’s name comes from a motion picture that Ma saw just before she was born. When Ma first held Deenie, she knew that the baby would turn out as she wanted—“beautiful”—if Deenie were her name. Ma’s favorite comment is that Helen has brains but Deenie has beauty. Ma wants Deenie to use her looks and be a model. Appointments with various agencies are arranged, but Mrs. Allison in New York City says that there is something about Deenie’s posture that concerns her. Ma accuses Deenie of slouching and not really trying to stand up straight.

Deenie tries out for the one seventh-grade spot on the cheerleading squad. She is devastated when Janet wins the coveted position and, instead of going home on the bus, seeks solace from her father at his gas station. The next day, Mrs. Rappoport, the gym teacher, wants to see Deenie after school, and Deenie thinks it is about cheerleading. When Mrs. Rappoport asks Deenie to bend over and touch her toes and to walk slowly across the room, she realizes that this meeting is about her posture. The teacher calls Deenie’s parents and suggests that Deenie see a doctor. Dr. Moravia...

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(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

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