Push Girl by Chelsie Hill and Jessica Love
What makes you, you?
Interests/Topics: adversity, identity, dance, friendship, family relations, physical handicaps
Curriculum Connections: English, Dance
Blurb: My daughter was three years old when she got her foot mangled in an escalator. She was wearing—you guessed it—Crocs, and this was before the days of warning signs about riding escalators in flimsy footwear. Crocs had just come out and they were all the rage. My daughter proudly wore the light-blue Mary Janes with bejeweled holes. She looked super cute.
Stupid Crocs. The warning signs went up the next day. I’m not kidding.
My daughter had her toe stitched back on and she’s fine now. There was some question about whether she’d have full use of her foot, but she doesn’t seem to have any problem cartwheeling around in gymnastics class so I’m not too worried about it.
Kara, an elite dancer in Push Girl, has her future all figured out. First she’ll be crowned Homecoming Queen, then she’ll graduate, and then she’ll pursue a professional career in dance…her most cherished dream. And of course Curt, her gorgeous boyfriend, will be by her side for it all.
But a bout of jealousy, an angry drive, and a car crash later has instantly changed Kara’s plans. Not only will she never dance again, she’ll never walk.
Kara lost more than the use of her legs that night; she lost her entire identity. Who do you become when the person you thought you were is gone?
Flavour: “Fighting off tears, I kicked off my heels and walked barefoot back to my car in the ditch. First my mom told me that my parents were probably getting a divorce, and now my boyfriend let me down twice, let himself get groped by a girl whose mission in life was to replace me like a trash bag, and embarrassed me in front of all his friends. My mind was blown by how much I’d been looking forward to this terrible night, so much that I couldn’t even be bothered to worry about what nasty foot fungus I was probably picking up as I traipsed around barefoot….Tires screeching, I pulled out of the ditch and got on the road, my mind shuffling through all the facts of the evening.” (33)
“’I’m a dancer,’ I told him, as if bringing this fact to his attention would make him realize what a horrible mistake this whole thing was. It’s not like I was just some random teenager who lost the use of her legs. I needed to be able to walk because I needed to be able to dance. I needed to be able to dance like I needed to be able to breathe. Dr. Nguyen looked at me, really looked at me, and a flicker of sadness and sympathy passed through his eyes. ‘I know.’” (53)
“I didn’t even realize I was crying until the tears dripped into my mouth. I ran my entire hand over my face to wipe them away, but they kept streaming. And as soon as I realized how much I was crying, I started to panic a bit. I couldn’t let anyone see me like this. I couldn’t talk to any of these girls. What did I have to talk to them about, besides dance? What did we have in common if that was taken away?” (117)
“[Jenny’s] eyebrows drew together, wrinkling her forehead. ‘Just because you’re confined to a wheelchair, you think—’ I gave her a sympathetic head tilt. ‘No, you have it backwards. The wheelchair is what keeps me from being confined somewhere. If I didn’t have it, I’d be confined to the house.’ I patted the wheels of my chair and smiled. ‘I’m super grateful for my chair, actually. It’s not something I’m stuck in like some kind of prison.’” (185)