Sisters. Being a sister is a very complicated thing. Carly, the protagonist, has a younger sister named Anna. Carly is a free-spirit and resists the Buckhead lifestyle. Anna likes girly things and doesn’t mind the luxuries living in the ritziest part of Atlanta brings. When Carly comes back from her summer volunteer project, Anna has gotten a figure: breasts to be specific — as Carly describes them they are “real live Hooters-esque boobs.” It’s too much for thin Carly to take in, though Anna doesn’t seem thrilled by her situation either. She tells Carly about the stares and comments she gets, even from their parents (her mom thinks Anna is getting fat and her dad calls her “top heavy”). Anna is an incoming freshman and can’t seem to decide if she’s going to like going to the upper- level portion of their Christian prep school. Carly informs Anna that she’ll watch over her.
When school starts, Anna is the talk of the school. The guys think Anna is hot and the girls want to know what Anna did to have such big boobs. On one hand Carly wants to protect Anna from all of this, on the other hand Carly is a little jealous of the attention. Anna gets in trouble at computer class for looking at porn, really it was just sexual harassment from another student. Carly comes to her aid. Anna is afraid to do a back dive in gym class, Carly tries to make it better, but can’t. The coach is a bully but Carly doesn’t speak up for Anna. Slowly Carly and Anna start to pull away from each other. They get their own friends and start pursuing their own interests. Carly is attracted to the new guy, Cole. They seem to have similar interests but Cole goes for a more popular girl.
Anna seems to be pulling herself inward, not expressing herself to Carly but other friends. When their parents go on a vacation without them, the word gets out and “just a few” friends over turns into a party with alcohol and way too many people that both Carly and Anna don’t know. Things get out of hand, Anna gets drunk and Cole takes advantage of her.
What about the baby ducks? Their neighbors, young precocious boys, give three ducks to Anna and Carly and keep yelling “hot chicks, hot chicks” to them. “They aren’t chicks, they’re ducks,” yells Carly who takes the ducks under her wing (sorry) and nurtures them until they can be released to the wild. After the night of the party, after Carly tells Anna she no longer wants to be her sister, one of the ducks dies and Carly starts to rearrange her priority. Love is stronger than hate and sisters matter.
I didn’t really like Carly. She is so determined to be different and anti-Buckhead that she becomes unlikable. She did, however, change her thoughts and opinions as the story went on. Carly’s nurturing instincts redeemed her for me, but the jealousy she felt for Anna made her seem ugly. “I do want to be different, you’re right. I want to be someone who thinks for herself, instead of just being some stupid girl who swishes her hair and wears too much makeup and shows off her boobs.” Anna seemed more real to me. She had this new body and was vulnerable to it. She had a weaker personality and relied on her sister, too much probably. The story was less about their parents, who were shallow. They sent their girls to a Christian prep school, not because they believed the things the school taught, but because it was the most prestigious school in the area. What was refreshing to me is Roger, who really likes Carly. Roger was a steady character. I liked him. I thought the setting was an important element as well. Bucktown and Holy Redeemer High School are both influential and inteh Bible Belt.
It just occurred to me that I have sucked all the fun out of this book. It is, after all, Lauren Myracle we’re talking about. The only other Lauren Myracle book I’ve read is Twelve, which I also loved, but didn’t seem as complex to me. Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks is more a fun, realistic read with issues interwoven than anything else. I hope that is the biggest compliment I can give. ♥
Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle has 289 pages. Grades 6 – 9. And it has a great cover! SH 6.09