GiGi Amateau

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A Certain Strain of Peculiar

Thirteen year old Mary Harold Woods has had enough panic attacks, trying to stay invisible, and being called "the grossest girl" at school. If her mom won't move from Virginia back to their family home in Wren, Alabama, she'll just have to drive the 691 miles there by herself, to where the comfort of Grandma Ayma's arms, the steady routine of the farmhouse, and the cool shade of the Black Warrior Forest wait.

Days of hard work wrangling cattle under the summer sun and the tough yet tender advice of Ayma and her farm manager, Bud, guide Mary Harold in discovering the true strength of her own spirit. As she reaches out to befriend Bud's daughter, Dixie, a girl with a strain of peculiar all her own, Mary Harold overcomes her self-doubt, discovering just how powerful and surprising the bonds of friendship and family can be.

About the book: by Gigi Amateau | Middle-grade fiction, Ages 12 and up, Grade 7 and up | Candlewick Press, hardcover April 2009 | ISBN: 978-0-7636-3009-6 | $16.99

Honors  |  Reviews  |  Resources  |  Press Posts


  • Bank Street College Children’s Book Committee 2010 Best Children's Books of the Year, Outstanding Merit
  • Voice of Youth Advocates 2009 Editor’s Choice
  • Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA), Nominee
  • Amelia Bloomer Award, Young Adult Fiction, Nominee
  • The Rainbow List, Young Adult Nominee
  • 2009 CYBIL Award, Young Adult Fiction, Nominee


A Certain Strain of Peculiar Reviews

Voice of Youth Advocates, Editor’s Choice 2009
From this novel’s first line to its last, readers will delight in the character of Mary Harold Woods, as she defends herself against bullies and seeks sanctuary in the home of her grandmother.

Style Weekly

The best young-adult literature blurs the lines of its genre, refuses to dumb itself down and is as good as the best stuff written for adults. Gigi Amateau ... is particularly masterful at sidestepping cliches and offering instead a truly original, spirited portrait of being 13 in the South. With a good dose of rejection, rebelliousness, urinary tract infections, bitchy friends and friends who act like horses, the most peculiar parts of this novel make it the most likable.

Amateau’s strong, deftly drawn, eccentric characters, combined with the idyllic rural setting, add depth to the familiar story of a teen’s gradual path to self-acceptance. Offer this to young teens who see themselves as outsiders and to those who love the peculiar among us. Grades 6-9.

Teens Read Too
Through this coming-of-age and self-discovery story, Gigi Amateau provides a quaint and peaceful setting where a lone and lonely girl finds herself. Any reader can relate to the sense of belonging that Mary Harold struggles with in the beginning of the novel. Read full review


A Certain Strain of Peculiar Resources




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