The Charming Life of Izzy Malone
From the author that wrote PLASTIC POLLY, SEEING CINDERELLA, The Opal Mask Series The Princess in the Opal Mask and The Opal Crown, comes Jenny Lundquist’s newest novel; THE CHARMING LIFE OF IZZY MALONE. Lundquist’s newest novel is about a young girl named Izzy Malone, (she does not like it when people call her Isabella) who is in the sixth grade who enjoys rowing very much, and hopes to show her school’s rowing club, The Dandelion Paddlers, that she is talented enough to be a part of their team. She hopes to demonstrate her talent when her town of Dandelion Falls, hosts an annual pumpkin festival in the fall, where there will be a rowing competition.
"This story not only has a character that is very relatable and easy to sympathize with, but often whose humor and attitude will make readers smile widely. Readers will cheer her on until the end and understand her frustration at being bullied and being different."
However, because Izzy has been getting into trouble at school, often, being that she does not do her homework properly, and sometimes physically fights back when she is being bullied, her parents tell her that she has to complete Mrs. Whippie’s Charm School, which is a program done through the mail, that will teach Izzy how to be a more well-rounded individual, that will hopefully improve her behavior. They tell her that if she does not change, she will not be able to do the competitive rowing competition. After each of Mrs. Whippie’s instructions/lessons, Izzy earns a charm. Although, even while doing Mrs. Whippie’s, assignments, however noble Izzy’s actions maybe, often others do not view her actions as acts of kindness, but as a nuisance. Izzy also often feels as if she is the child that is not living up to her mother’s expectations, and that her sister Carolyn, is often viewed as the exceptional child. Moving forward, Izzy is a character that young readers can identify with. Izzy unfortunately goes through what most people in middle school encounter, such as being bullied, crushes and a sense of not belonging anywhere.
This story not only has a character that is very relatable and easy to sympathize with, but often whose humor and attitude will make readers smile widely. One theme that many readers can identify with is the feeling of being compared to others. Of not being good enough. Of never living up to expectations of one parent, in addition to the constant sadness that middle school has to offer. Lundquist did a great job in not only describing the setting and characters, but also bringing the reader back to the feelings of what it is like to be in middle school. The reader will understand the frustration Izzy feels as she encounters bullying and the feeling of constantly being a disappointment in her mother’s eyes. Izzy does not care for being like everyone else, while her mother feels it is a necessity, since she is running for mayor.
Although, while Lundquist, did indeed do a good job reminding readers of what middle school is like, what I thought could have been improved upon was Izzy and her mother’s relationship. As stated previously, issues in a mother, daughter relationship is often very relatable to readers. I would have liked Lundquist to have given more details in how Izzy and her mom could have improved their relationship. Additionally, it is unknown if Izzy’s mother won the race for mayor. I understand that was not the main focus of the story, however because it was one reason why she did not often take Izzy to practice rowing, because she was very busy campaigning, I thought it could have been mentioned what the results of the election were. I also thought that there could have been given more character description.
Izzy Malone is a character that will make readers smile and laugh at times because of her wit and actions. Readers will cheer her on until the end and understand her frustration at being bullied and being different. That even sometimes those closes to us can hurt us in the stressful world of middle school. However, readers will also learn that being different and that the only expectation one should live up to, is their own.
Reviewed by Hasnah Farraj-Doleh on November 30, 2016