Mae McBride and Heidi Foster were the very best of friends. Tied at the hip from early elementary school, their relationship was the stuff of storybooks, legendary even, in the minds of their high school classmates.
That is, until Mae's father died while saving Heidi's life. When Mae finds out, she blames Heidi. She blames her father for putting Heidi ahead of her. She blames her friends for taking Heidi’s side. She begins to unravel amid that blame and her uncontrollable and atypical anger.
At the same time Heidi is beset by guilt, falls into depression and stops eating properly; wasting away physically and emotionally while waiting for Mae to let her back into the friendship she misses so dearly.
Mae, consumed by her hatred of Heidi, the confusion regarding her father’s motives, the perceived desertion of her friends and her mother’s grief, loses more and more of herself.
What could possibly bring these two old friends back to each other? A miracle?
Hating Heidi Foster, is a young adult novel about the place of honor true friendships hold in our lives. It is about suffering and loss and the ethics of grief. It is about a deep and painful conflict, the bright light of selflessness and sacrifice and the love that rights the ship and carries us safely to port.
If the most important person in your life died saving your best friend, how would you react? Would you stop eating and wither away, or would you turn your anger inwards, and close yourself off? Mae McBride’s father died in a fire saving Heidi, Mae’s best friend. Eight years of friendship died with Mae’s dad. Mae feels that her father chose Heidi over their family, and she hates him and Heidi for it. The anger inside Mae is clear to everyone around her, and she slowly loses all her friends. Heidi is coping even worse than Mae. She is drowning in guilt. Without Mae’s forgiveness, Heidi gives up on living and stops eating. To save Heidi and herself, Mae must learn to forgive.
Jeffrey Blount’s plot and characters pulled at my heart. Mae is strong and loves her family very much. She supports her mother through all the pain and still works hard in school and in her athletics despite the trauma she experienced. Mae’s grandparents are great through all the pain, supporting Mae and Mae’s mother and helping them move forward. Although Mae is the main character, I think Heidi is pretty great, too. Heidi did begin to shut down, but after surviving so much, she deserved some time to process. Mae’s mother was the character I had trouble liking. She began to think about dating only a few months after Mae’s father dies. Who does that? I actually reread the page I was so shocked.
The writing style of Jeffrey Blount seems suited for adult books. Many of the things he had Mae say seemed odd coming from a fourteen year old. Overall, this was only a minor point that did not disrupt my reading. Middle school aged children and young teens seem like the perfect audience for Hating Heidi Foster. The book could teach them about moving forward and dealing with trauma and death. I give Hating Heidi Foster four out of five stars.
*Reviewed by Kristin*
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