Reckless, Glorious, Girl

by Ellen Hagan (Author)

Reckless, Glorious, Girl
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

The co-author of Watch Us Rise pens a novel in verse about all the good and bad that comes with middle school, growing up girl, and the strength of family that gets you through it.

Beatrice Miller may have a granny's name (her granny's, to be more specific), but she adores her Mamaw and her mom, who give her every bit of wisdom and love they have. But the summer before seventh grade, Bea wants more than she has, aches for what she can't have, and wonders what the future will bring.

This novel in verse follows Beatrice through the ups and downs of friendships, puberty, and identity as she asks: Who am I? Who will I become? And will my outside ever match the way I feel on the inside? A gorgeous, inter-generational story of Southern women and a girl's path blossoming into her sense of self, Reckless, Glorious, Girl explores the important questions we all ask as we race toward growing up.

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"Hagan's keen understanding of adolescent preoccupations will be enough to hook many." --Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

"An introspective, sensitive tale that readers can grow along with." --Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This spirited, sometimes uneven verse novel follows 12-year-old Bea's angst and joys as she transitions to middle school: "It's the saying goodbye to the old me/ while having no idea/ who the new me even is just yet." Hagan (Watch Us Rise) roots the narrative in small-town Kentucky, sketching Bea's home life and the tension between her "country smarts" namesake Mamaw, an avid gardener, and her buttoned-up widow mother, a nurse. Chapters describe how Bea is "Part Mamaw & Part Mom" and delineate the relatives' one shared trait: "Neither of Them Listens." Pacing varies across free verse chapters, with Bea's voice losing power when recounting her emotional state without evidence ("Everything feels so heavy"). But observations about how people view her Kentucky home ring true ("They see small towns/ where I see everyone I know"), and scenes of dramatic action excel--especially a swim team relay, the jockeying of new friendships against old, and excruciating moments of embarrassment. Hagan's intergenerational family story offers an engaging slant on familiar early adolescent growing pains. Ages 8-11. (Feb.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up--This novel in verse explores the anxiety that adolescent girls often feel on the brink of becoming young women. Beatrice Miller, a white Southern girl, is enjoying the last few weeks of summer before the start of middle school. She is focused on trying to figure out who she is or will be as a person, and frequently worries about school. She wants to be noticed, be cool, and hang out with the popular kids, but she has many insecurities about her body, her family, and how to express what she actually thinks and feels. The writing feels slow at times, bogged down by repetitive details, and some word choices don't feel realistic for a 12-year-old--but most of the narrative flows well and Beatrice is a very relatable character. There are many positive messages in this title about identity, friendship, and family. Beatrice's friend Mariella is Latina, and StaceyAnn's father is Black while her mom is white. VERDICT This title will resonate with readers who aren't ready to leave childhood behind but who don't feel like kids anymore. Recommended for libraries in need of verse novels and relatable coming-of-age tales.--Lisa Buffi, Sterling M.S., VA

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"With a beautifully drawn cast of intergenerational characters, Reckless, Glorious, Girl is a joyful, poetic celebration of family, friendship, and growing up." —Kate Messner, author of CHIRP and BREAKOUT

"In Reckless, Glorious, Girl, Hagan's Kentucky leaps off the page with its finger-licking food, Southern charm, and most of all its homegrown, Bardstown girl, Beatrice, who is down to earth but also ready to take flight buoyed by the fierce and unwavering love from her family and best friends. Poignant and heartwarming—a glorious debut." —Renée Watson, Newbery Honor-winning and and New York Times bestselling author of PIECING ME TOGETHER and SOME PLACES MORE THAN OTHERS

"Ellen Hagan's gorgeous novel in verse is a thoughtful, relatable family story, the kind of book that you talk to, because the characters are your friends, your family, the people you know and love—and maybe the ones you don't love so much, at least not all the time. Reckless, Glorious Girl is bursting with humor, heart, and deep joy." —Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, author of TWO NAOMIS, NAOMIS TOO, and 8TH GRADE SUPER ZERO

"Hagan's intergenerational family story offers an engaging slant on familiar early adolescent growing pains." —Publishers Weekly

"This stunning book is the story I've been waiting for my whole life; where girls rise up to claim their space with joy and power." —Laurie Halse Anderson, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of SPEAK and SHOUT, on WATCH US RISE

"A manifesto for budding feminists. . . . An inspiring look at two strong-willed teens growing into even stronger young women ready to use their voices and take on the world." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review, on WATCH US RISE

"This intersectional, layered novel . . . covers a wide breadth of topics—institutionalized racism, how we undermine young women, feminism in the modern age—with a clear message: Girls are going to come out on top." —Marie Claire on WATCH US RISE

"An instruction manual to freedom and love and voice." —Mahogany L. Browne, author of BLACK GIRL MAGIC and WOKE BABY, on WATCH US RISE

"A source of inspiration on every page and a remarkable story of the power of young people to make a difference. And it's a great read." —Caroline Kennedy, New York Times bestselling author and editor of SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY, on WATCH US RISE

"An extraordinary story of two indomitable spirits, the power of friendship, and what leadership looks like in the hands of young people today, Watch Us Rise is the novel we all need right now." —Brendan Kiely, New York Times bestselling coauthor of ALL AMERICAN BOYS and TRADITION, on WATCH US RISE

Ellen Hagan

Ellen Hagan is a writer, performer, and educator. She is the co-author with Renée Watson of Watch Us Rise. Her poetry collections include Blooming Fiascoes, Hemisphere, and Crowned. Her work can be found in ESPN Magazine, She Walks in Beauty, and Southern Sin. Ellen is the Director of the Poetry & Theatre Departments at the DreamYard Project and directs their International Poetry Exchange Program with Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. She co-leads the Alice Hoffman Young Writer's Retreat at Adelphi University. Raised in Kentucky, she now lives in New York City with her family.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication date
February 20, 2021
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV013030 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Multigenerational
JUV057000 - Juvenile Fiction | Stories in Verse (see also Poetry)
JUV014000 - Juvenile Fiction | Girls & Women
Library of Congress categories
Family life
Novels in verse
Mothers and daughters

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