Life can be horribly unfair, especially if you are a teen. Or so you may think. Sometimes parents can be right, but not all adult decisions seem just and reasonable. Unfortunately, adults usually have the last word.
In her third book in the Bird Face series, 6 Dates to Disaster, Cynthia Toney weaves new story lines into Wendy Robichaud’s complicated life. Wendy doesn’t always start in a good place. She can be selfish, unforgiving, and greedy. However, as in the earlier books of the Bird Face series, deep down inside, Wendy loves widely and deeply.
Her romantic love for David Griffin flourishes into something far beyond physical attraction. Her friendship with her stepsister Alice and her distant cousin Gayle deepens into tender generosity. Her concern for elderly Mrs. Villaturo, who moved away from their old neighborhood, drives Wendy to exhaustion as she tries to earn her way to Alaska to visit Mrs. V. and her grandson, Sam. Wendy’s former best friend, Jennifer, returns to her life, and Wendy realizes how much Jennifer still means to her. Wendy even grows closer to her mother and stepfather, mainly through adversity, as their new family gels.
Penny-pinching comes naturally to mother and daughter. Wendy grew up in poverty. “Salvaging and recycling (are) in (her) blood.” Her mother furnished their tiny house with discards and flea market finds. When Cathy Robichaud married Daniel Rend (in the previous book), Wendy not only gained a stepsister and stepbrother, Alice and Adam, but she also moved to a larger house and entered a world of greater affluence.
In 6 Dates to Disaster, when Daniel loses his job, Wendy shifts back to frugal mode and prepares to earn her way to Alaska. Although shunned by the “Sticks,” her wealthy and fashionably anorexic classmates, Wendy is good enough to tutor one of them, Melissa, on the sly. For pay. What would people think if a “Stick” girl was seen with Bird Face? But word of Wendy’s abilities spreads among Melissa’s friends. Wendy exhausts herself making money in the service of the wealthy illiterate. What could possibly go wrong?
Wendy suffers humiliation and rejection, but she thrives. She learns to trust, to forgive, and to share in ways that will challenge readers to grow up and step up. By the last page of the novel, Wendy stands taller and stronger in spite of the blows life has dealt.
6 Dates to Disaster calls out loudly for a sequel. There’s a continent of material from which to draw and many new adventures to fill the life of Louisiana’s Wendy Robichaud.
As with the previous Bird Face novels, Cynthia Toney personalizes Wendy’s story with discussion questions and resources that will help readers open discussions about honesty, dating, underage drinking, communication with parents, American Sign Language, and finding a mentor.
(Cynthia Toney and I belong to the Catholic Writers Guild Fiction Critique Group. She provided me with a pre-publication copy of 6 Dates to Disaster for use in this review.)