Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen is a delightful middle-grade novel featuring a wonderfully spunky heroine. Recalling Judy Blume and Harriet-the-Spy, this coming-of-age tale is set in soggy Vancouver. A heroine whose mood and resoluteness is as steady as the steely-rain weather, Violet will steal your heart. Violet speaks right to us as she recalls the events that led to her director father leaving with the blonde bimbo star of a failed tv show. With their father living in Los Angeles with said blonde bimbo, Violet, her sister and her mother are left in a dilapidated house, scraping pennies and trying to get by. What’s worse, Violet’s mother insists on compulsive dating and when she sets her sights on the unfortunately named Dudley Weiner, Violet springs into action.
Divorce stories are nothing new in middle-grade fiction; but this one was teeming with realism. Violet’s embarrassment, awkwardness and roller-coaster emotions clearly established the author’s validity. I felt what Violet felt and even at her most mischievous, she was endearing. Rather like Harriet the Spy ( and at times with similar antics), Violet has the ability to be synonymously charming and prickly. When Violet decides that George Clooney is the only man for her mom and begins writing him deliciously detailed letters, the plot really springs into action. These letters alone make the novel worth reading. Nielsen has perfectly captured the pre-teen voice. Violet’s first crush, aversion to affection, desperation to avenge her mother’s honour and take vengeance on her father’s actions were vital, lucid and real. I was stunned by how well the author possessed the thoughts and psyche of a typical 7th grader. This offering from Tundra has received critical acclaim. In fact, it was that acclaim that led me to pick it up in the first place. I am glad I did.