Title: A Blind Guide to Stinkville
Author: Beth Vrabel
Pub. Date: October 13th, 2015
Genres: Middle Grade
Before Stinkville, Alice didn’t think albinism—or the blindness that goes with it—was a big deal. Sure, she uses a magnifier to read books. And a cane keeps her from bruising her hips on tables. Putting on sunscreen and always wearing a hat are just part of life. But life has always been like this for Alice. Until Stinkville.
For the first time in her life, Alice feels different—like she’s at a disadvantage. Back in her old neighborhood in Seattle, everyone knew Alice, and Alice knew her way around. In Stinkville, Alice finds herself floundering—she can’t even get to the library on her own. But when her parents start looking into schools for the blind, Alice takes a stand. She’s going to show them—and herself—that blindness is just a part of who she is, not all that she can be. To prove it, Alice enters the Stinkville Success Stories essay contest. No one, not even her new friend Kerica, believes she can scout out her new town’s stories and write the essay by herself. The funny thing is, as Alice confronts her own blindness, everyone else seems to see her for the first time.
This is a stirring small-town story that explores many different issues—albinism, blindness, depression, dyslexia, growing old, and more—with a light touch and lots of heart. Beth Vrabel’s characters are complicated and messy, but they come together in a story about the strength of community and friendship.
This is a promising middle grade tale about acceptance and the trials and hardships it takes to get there. Humorous and light, Vrabel shows us the raw truth of how people who are perceived as different are treated and how it effects them without skimming over the details and being unnecessarily wallowing.
All the characters are strong and brilliant on their own. Each character has something they’re fighting with, and they’re effected in many different ways. Vrabel shows us different sides of life by giving us real, raw consequences and effects. She also gives us hope that we can get through tough times, we can fight back against stereotypes, and we can be happy with who and what we are no matter what. Vrabel balances all these tough topics and meshes them into one honest and brilliant lighthearted tale that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
Alice is partially blind due to her albinism. All her life she has been surrounded by family and friends, people who know and don’t question her condition. But when her family moves to Stinkville, everything changes. Her family members and everyone else don’t think she can do anything on her own: walk to the library, join the Stinkville writing contest, write her entry herself, ect. In an attempt to prove everyone wrong, she gets out of her comfort zone and stops depending on everyone. She stands up for herself, learns things, discoveries new lessons and perspectives, and she finds friendships in unlikely places. She is a very likeable, confident character and I loved her bluntness!
Kerica is definitely a character I enjoyed reading about, even if we didn’t see her much. She helped Alice out and showed her new places and taught her a few lessons, though she probably didn’t realize it.
This is a quick read because of how the flow and the pace work. It’s easy to get lost in the story and adore every moment of it, while also taking the time to admire the deep quotes or discoveries that have a deeper meaning than they appear. I will admit however, that I would’ve liked to see more of the depression and how that’s dealt with since it involves Alice and certain decisions.
This is a heartening read full of hope and acceptance, even when things seem so helpless and lonely. In a fight with depression, blindness, dyslexia, albinism, and much more, Vrabel shows you how words and actions can hurt, and how they can also heal.
A huge thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for review! This in no way affected my review or any of my opinions.