Thursday, November 10, 2011

Book Review - Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek

Title: Tomato Girl 
Author: Jayne Pupek
Year: 2008
Page: 298
Genre: Fiction - Family

FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
For eleven-year-old Ellie Sanders, her father has always been the rock that she could cling to when her mother's emotional troubles became too frightening. But when he comes under the thrall of the pretty teenager who raises vegetables and tomatoes for sale at the general store that he runs, Ellie sees her security slowly slipping away. Now she must be witness and warden to her mother's gradual slide into madness.

Told from Ellie's point of view, Tomato Girl takes the reader into the soul of a terrified young girl clinging desperately to childhood while being forced into adulthood years before she is ready. To save herself, she creates a secret world, a place in which her mother gets well, her father returns to being the man he was, and the Tomato Girl is banished forever. Tomato Girl marks the debut of a gifted and promising new author who has written a timeless Southern novel.

First Sentence:
Today is market day.

My Thoughts:

  •  Tea Time with Marce recommended this book (see her review here) and I was intrigued.
  •  This is definitely more of a character driven novel, but the characters seemed very real. The story was written from Ellie's perspective and she definitely had a strong voice. You can't help but fall for this little girl, and you wanted to be able to reach in to rescue her from all the problems her family placed on her shoulders.
  •  Ellie's mum was a tragic figure, and you'd have a love-hate relationship with her dad. But if you put yourself into her dad's shoe, it'd definitely make you less critical and wonder what you'd do if your spouse has a severe mental illness. Tess, the teenager girl, again is another love-hate character - you feel bad for her but you may not agree with her actions but then again, what would you have done if you were her?
  • I would have loved to learn more about Mr Morgan (dad's boss and the store owner) and particularly,  Clara  and Jurichco - I wish we knew more about them and their magic (was it really magic? Or not?) As of now, we kinda just get a taste of these characters but I think they could have been elaborated more as I thought they'd play a more important role in Ellie's life.
  • The writing was easy to read. The ending also seemed a little rushed though (PS - now 3.5 months later, I can't quite remember how it end exactly...?). Some may find some content a little disturbing but it didn't bother me because it fit the story.
  •  Oh and Jellybean - what a cute name for a pet chick!
  • While I was googling to see what other books the author had written, I found that she had passed away in 2010. I couldn't find out how she died though... but what a shame.

I have heard Mama say there is nothing more disappoint than an ordinary life, but I don't know. Sometimes an ordinary life is what I want most in the world. (p43)

Anytime things get too hard, you draw yourself a door and step on the other side, you hear? You are always safe on the other side of the door. (p71)

"Remember what I said about your mother being like a lily caught in a hurricane? And the only way we can help her is to keep the wind and water around her calm. Understand?" (p98)

Whenever I have a hard day, I curl up in Mama's quilt and dream my troubles away. You give each worry you have to one of the stars. Remember that. Don't matter how many worries you got because there are always more stars than worries." (p212-213))

The one good thing about standing in the rain is nobody can tell you've been crying. (p243)

Overall Rating:

3.5 Stars. A good read. I wish a couple of characters were elaborated more. The ending was a little rushed.

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  1. Oh I am glad you liked it. Did you enjoy the titles from the chapters?

    I realised she passed last year also, sad. I was looking forward to something new from her.

    I had just started blogging a little over a month when I reviewed this, lol

  2. @Marce - yes the chapter titles were cute! Although I did wonder why the title was called Tomato girl (forgot to mention it in the review) - it is catchy but I didn't think it was the heart of the story.

  3. I loved this book, so I'm glad to see you enjoyed it, too. I was so sad to hear that she'd passed; after I reviewed the book, we'd e-mailed back and forth a bit and she was very friendly.

  4. @Anna - how wonderful you had the chance to correspond to her. I am sure she was happy to hear from those who loved her book!