Jennifer Gooch Hummer
Published March 6, 2012
Reviewed by Megan
Apron Bramhall has come unmoored. It’s 1985 and her mom has passed away, her evil stepmother is pregnant, and her best friend has traded her in for a newer model. Fortunately, she’s about to be saved by Jesus. Not that Jesus—the actor who plays him in Jesus Christ, Superstar. Apron is desperate to avoid the look-alike Mike (no one should look that much like Jesus unless they can perform a miracle or two), but suddenly he’s everywhere. Until one day, she’s stuck in church with him—of all places. And then something happens; Apron’s broken teenage heart blinks on for the first time since she’s been adrift.
Mike and his grumpy boyfriend, Chad, offer her a summer job in their flower store and Apron’s world seems to calm. But when she uncovers Chad’s secret, coming of age becomes almost too much bear. She’s forced to see things the adults around her fail to—like what love really means and who is paying too much for it.
Confession: 98% of the time when I pick up a book I have no idea what it’s about. I either like the cover, the title, or it’s been recommended to me by someone I trust. Other times I have just skimmed the blurb on the back and saw a word or two that I thought sounded good. When I read reviews I always skip the blurb. I guess I just liked being surprised. So when I volunteered to review Girl Unmoored it was because, (1) I liked the title, and (2) Jesus Christ, Superstar. Which happens to be one of my favorite musicals. So it’s a bit of an understatement when I say that I was not prepared for the emotional roller coaster this book would take me on. Also, I had no idea it was set in 1985. So. I was extremely clueless, as usual.
We begin with Apron (the story of her name is adorable and clever, btw) attending a production of Jesus Christ, Superstar and we can already see the tension between her and her best friend, Rennie. Let me start by saying that though the girls are in the spring semester of their seventh grade year, this book deals with some tough stuff. A lot of it has to do with the time period and may not seem so tough to us now, but for Apron experiencing it in 1985 it’s a pretty huge deal.
It’s definitely a coming-of-age story about a girl discovering the ups and downs of friendship, family changes, and life changes. Her stepmother is terrible and pregnant with what Apron refers to as “the little whatever” and Apron’s father is oblivious to the hate exchanged between Apron and her stepmother. Like any 13-year-old girl, this and losing her best friend are enough to make her feel like her life is falling apart.
But then she meets Mike and Chad while they are delivering flowers for a wedding. Mike played Jesus in the musical and Chad was the choreographer and together they own a flower business called Scent Appeal. Mike and Chad are a gay couple in a time when tolerance was both unexpected and, to most people, undeserved. To make matters even worse, Chad has been diagnosed with AIDS, which makes the people of the small town even more afraid of what they don’t understand. Apron’s friendship with the guys is exactly what each needs at this time in their lives. It’s a beautiful story of what love really means and learning to understand what you previously do not understand. Jennifer Gooch Hummer does a great job of understanding both sides of the situation. This story does not tell what is right or wrong, but lets you make that decision on your own. It is, quite simply, about the importance of love and friendship when everything is terrible.