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By Susan Shreve

How bad can you hurt and still bounce back? 

Resilience. Alyssa Reed’s grandma Daisy G has it. Alyssa’s mom clearly doesn’t. What about skinny, redheaded Alyssa? Before the year in which this story takes place, she hadn’t ever even considered the question. Life just seemed fine. She didn’t really notice the distance between her parents, or that her mom could be down a lot. And even if there WAS a strain between her mom and dad, everything was going to be great when the new baby arrived: Lila Rose. Her little sister. But Lila Rose doesn’t survive, and neither does Alyssa’s parents’ marriage. Reality has driven through Alyssa’s eleven-year-old life like a runaway train, and she has no one to help her deal with it.

That’s when she decides to become BLISTER and make things go her way, even if it hurts.


Later, lying in bed unable to sleep, Daisy G. making little cat snores beside her, Blister thought of a plan. 

She certainly wasn’t going to sit around and wait for her mother to be happy again or her father to come home. 

“No use trying to change the things you can’t change,” Daisy G. would say. 

But with a little work, she could be a cheerleader. Maybe even captain. 

Reviews and Awards

ALA Notable Book for Middle Readers
Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books of 2001
A Children’s Book Sense 76 selection, Winter 2001-2002 

⋆“The feisty, remarkably resourceful girl who came to Jonah's aid in Jonah the Whale and How He Became Incredibly Famous takes center stage in this heartrending novel. After Alyssa's sister is stillborn, her mother slips into a deep depression and her father moves the family from their farmhouse to a cramped apartment in North Haven, Conn. When her father later tells her that he is moving out of the apartment, the 10-year-old announces that she is replacing her given name with Blister, "Like when your shoes are too tight." At her new school, Blister "assume[s] a role of invented self-confidence," but fails to break into the fifth-grade cliques, despite reassuring her parents that she is making many new friends. On a weekend visit to her father's apartment, the child opens a suitcase stashed under his bed and discovers a cache of women's clothing and jewelry, some of which she takes with her when she leaves. How Blister uses these purloined items to seek revenge on her father and to impress her classmates enhances the poignancy of Shreve's narrative, which offers razor-sharp insight into the mind of this troubled yet resilient heroine. With a tightly woven plot and entirely convincing characters (Blister's supportive and eccentric grandmother is a standout), Shreve again proves herself an inspired and inspiring storyteller.” - Publishers Weekly, starred review

“This perceptively written novel with memorable characters (Blister’s grandmother is an original) gets right to the bone.” – Booklist, boxed review

“Shreve pulls no punches in this all-too-believable story. The sharp, detailed descriptions capture the youngster's every thought and emotion as she realizes the ineffectuality of her parents and struggles to gain some control over her life. Although she takes center stage, all of the characters are perfectly drawn, from her helpless, despondent mother to her eccentric, spirited grandmother, who teaches the child the importance of resilience.... Readers will find themselves cheering for a remarkable girl they will not soon forget.” - School Library Journal

Purchase Options
Amazon • Barnes & Noble

Summer 2001
Middle Grade Novel
ISBN: 0-439-19313-3
Price: $15.95/$22.99
Trim Size: 5  1/2" x 8 1/4"
Page Count: 128
Foreign Rights: Scholastic
Translation Rights: Scholastic
Rights Available? yes

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