Friday, June 30, 2017

"The History of Hilary Hambrushina" by Marnie Lamb

The History of Hilary Hambrushina
by Marnie Lamb

The History of Hilary Hambrushina by Marnie Lamb

The History of Hilary Hambrushina by Marnie Lamb is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Hilary has one goal for her first year in junior high: to become popular. But her plans are turned upside down when her best friend leaves for the summer and a quirky girl named Kallie moves in next door. Kallie paints constellations on her ceiling, sleeps in a hammock, and enacts fantastical plays in front of cute boys on the beach. Yet despite Kallie’s lack of interest in being cool, Hilary and Kallie find themselves becoming friends. That summer friendship, however, is put to the test when school begins, reigniting Hilary’s obsession with climbing the social ladder. As Hilary discovers the dark side to popularity, she must decide who she wants to be before she loses everything.

Kallie’s room was the first on the left. Swinging open the door, she spread her arms out and said, “Ta-da!”
Although I was expecting something unusual, I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me. The walls and ceiling were black, and the ceiling had a pattern of white dots and lines that reminded me of the night sky. A huge hammock stretched like a crescent moon between two walls. Some sort of rope-and-wheel apparatus that looked like something we’d built in science class last year was attached to the wall and ceiling above the ends of the hammock. In front of the window was a telescope pointed outside. At least a hundred stuffed animals sat against the walls, and books and clothes lay scattered on the floor.
“What do you think?” asked Kallie proudly.
I didn’t know what to say. It was the strangest room I’d ever been in, but also the most interesting. I thought of my own room, with the shiny new Damian S├ímos poster (the same one as Lynn’s) on one wall and the old wallpaper my dad still hadn’t taken down on the other. The wallpaper had faceless Victorian ladies holding flowered parasols, and I loved it — when I was six. Then there was the squeaky hinge on my closet door (another thing my dad hadn’t fixed). Even my new lavender chenille bedding, which I’d begged my mom to buy, looked so boring compared to Kallie’s room.
Finally I mumbled, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Really? Fantastic! I wanted to make it unique.”
“Is that the night sky?” I asked, looking at the ceiling.
“Yeah. Those are the constellations. Razi and I finished painting them last night.”
I stared at her. “You painted them? You mean it’s not wallpaper?”
“No, but if you thought it was, it must mean we did a good job.”
“You did an amazing job!” I exclaimed. I looked around the room in awe. How could Kallie have painted such a complicated pattern? I couldn’t imagine painting a wall so well, let alone a ceiling.
Kallie was beaming. “Thanks. We did it mostly at night because we could see the sky then. We had a big map to help us during the day, but you can’t really get the feel of the stars without looking at them, you know?”
Actually I didn’t. I’d never thought about that before.
“But the real reason I asked you to come over,” said Kallie, grinning, “was because I was wondering if you wanted to help me paint stuff on the walls.”
For the first time, I noticed that the walls had no patterns on them.
“You want me to help paint your room?” I was surprised and kind of honoured. After all, she barely knew me. “O.K.”
“Great! Stay there!” She dashed out. I looked around. That’s when I realized something was missing. When Kallie came back, pushing a wooden cart with jars of paint in dozens of colours, I asked, “Uh … Kallie, where’s the bed?”
“What bed?”
“The bed you sleep on?”
“Who says I sleep on a bed?” She moved some stuffed animals to the hammock.
“Where do you sleep then?”
“In the hammock, of course.”
I was stunned. “You sleep in a hammock? Why?”
“Why not?”
“Well … isn’t it uncomfortable?” I said, starting to feel impatient. Why did she always have to answer my questions with another question?
“No. It’s excellent, especially in the summer, when it’s so hot. And if I’m bored and can’t fall asleep, I can swing. You can’t do that on a regular bed.”
No. I had to admit she was right about that.
“What does that do?” I asked, pointing to a rope that dangled at one end of the hammock.
“Watch.” Kallie grabbed the rope and yanked so roughly I gasped. The hammock shot up to the ceiling.
Kallie was grinning. “Isn’t it platinum?” she asked, as she yanked the rope again. The hammock bounded back down.
This made me uncomfortable, and I became even more uncomfortable when Kallie put some orange paint on the wall and began circling it around with a small brush. I didn’t want to stand there doing nothing, but I didn’t want to start painting either. Kallie was obviously a great artist. I’d always thought I was pretty good, but I knew anything I painted would look like a two-year-old’s scribbles compared to her drawings. So I walked over to the window and looked out.
“There’s another hammock in the backyard,” I said.
“That’s Udu. This one’s Budu.”
“You named your hammocks?”
“Yes.” She rolled her eyes.
She turned to me, paintbrush held over the wooden floor. The orange circle now had green hair and pink eyes, which looked at me owlishly. Frowning, she asked impatiently, “Why do you ask so many questions? And are you going to help me paint or just stand there? Because if you’re just going to stand there, I’d like you to stop talking. It’s disturbing me.” A drop of green paint rolled off the end of the brush and hit the floor.
“Oh, bugaboo!” said Kallie, which I guessed was her way of swearing. “Hey, that looks good.” She squatted down and began making a circle on the floor.
I knew I had to either start painting or leave, and I didn’t want to run away. So I picked up a big paintbrush and dipped it in a jar of magenta paint. Then I started making circles on the wall, a few feet away from Kallie. Gradually the circles turned into fluffy shapes that looked like flowers from another planet.
“That’s neat!” said Kallie, leaning over. “What are those?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know.” We painted in silence for a few minutes until I said, “Let’s call them Hambrushinas.”
Kallie’s head snapped up from the floor, where she’d been making the green circle into some sort of creature with many arms and eyes. “That’s the first sensible thing you’ve said since I met you.” Her wide smile assured me that this was a compliment. I smiled back.

Praise for the Book
"This YA novel is definitely geared toward the younger end of the spectrum. Though sometimes narrated by Hilary as an older teenager, it most often comes from the perspective of her twelve year old self. [...] It does feature some good life lessons on friendship and bullying, though. It's an easy and quick read that touches on a lot of issues that young girls might experience." ~ rexy
"Maybe its due to the fact that it relates a lot with what I went through during school but I thoroughly enjoyed every part of this book. It was an easy read that I would persuade anyone still in high school, or even with children in high school to read this. Although in saying that I am neither someone still in high school and I don't have any children. Scratch that, I think anyone could read this and connect with it in one shape or form." ~ Teagan Cook
"Thumbs up for Marnie Lamb for this beautifully written book. I notice how much people actually DNF it at the first chapter (cause trust me it was just so lame, all the childish stuff, I think at that time, only children may enjoy by reading this). Thank God i've given your book a second chance if not I'll not realize how beautiful this story was. :')" ~ Eyqa Zaque
"This is labelled as young adult [...] but it's more middle grade - preteens especially will enjoy it. The same old story of wanting to fit in and bullies picking on someone simply because they're different. I thought the writing was strong. It was funny in places but was also serious when need be. Kallie was such a strong character. But poor Hilary is torn between doing the right thing by sticking up for her new friend and not being able to say anything because it wouldn't be cool." ~ Jenn
"Overall I think this is the kind of book i would have gobbled up at about age 12, so I was a little too late reading it but I would still recommend it to people in that age group who want something that covers a difficult topic in an easier way." ~ Jay

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
At the age of seventeen, Hilary is persuaded to write her autobiography. She writes about the life-changing events in her life when she was twelve. That summer, her best friend Lynn goes to California, leaving Hilary on her own. Until Kallie moves in next door, someone so different to Lynn that Hilary doesn't think they can ever be friends. The girls slowly grow closer, but what will happen when summer ends, Lynn returns, and Hilary once again worries about what the "cool" girls think?
This is a middle grade story about a twelve year old girl with body image issues. It is also a story about friendship, family, and bullying. The young girls in this book act so horribly towards each other, that it's often hard to read. It's so sad to think that these young girls are too afraid or embarrassed to seek help from their parents or teachers. Hopefully this book will help girls in similar situations realize that they are not alone.
The final chapter takes us back to the beginning of the book when Hilary, now aged seventeen, summarizes the events of the last five years and reveals how she came to write her autobiography at such a young age. While not technically necessary, these chapters allow us to witness Hilary's growth and give us hope for the future.
Warnings: bullying.

About the Author
A Journey Prize nominee, Marnie Lamb earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in various Canadian literary journals. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, has just been released by Iguana Books. When she is not writing fiction or running her freelance editing business, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out colorful fashions at the One of a Kind Show.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.