his book is more or less exactly the same as Zeitoun's 13. With the exception that Numb is a million times better in every aspect.
Having said Zeitoun had captured the spirit of a high school-aged girl and her turmoils of growing up with weird parents and awkwardness and everything else that our wonderful friend puberty brings along, English does it twice as good.
She is able to make you feel just as uncomfortable while reading this book as the main character is.
Granted, English's heroine, Germaine , is a little older (sixteen) and a little more grown up (she's "fooled around" with boys). Either story is about the pitfalls of growing up in an era where parents found Dr. Spock to be the best teaching aid and you couldn't learn anything unless you tried it once.
English's book is told in a series of short stories with all the same characters over the span of a year and a half as the characters are nearing the end of their high school lives. People grow up. People grow stupider. People make life altering decisions that will only come back to haunt them in the years to come.
English grabs your hand and leads you through these people's lives like a tour guide through a parenting manual on how to not raise your kids. It's not that the kids in this book are real bad. They just make uninformed choices when only a little guidance could have led them on a straight and narrow path.
If it came down to having to choose between and Zeitoun's 13 and Uncofortably Numb to re-read, or pass along to a teenager who needs a little something to relate to as she grows through her formative years, Uncomfortably Numb would definitely be the choice. Both were good reads, but Numb was just that much better than I might just read it again soon. One can never have enough lessons in parenting.
published by Porcupine's Quill