When Jane’s arm is amputated due to a shark attack, she has to negotiate new aspirations and friendships, along with learning how to button her pants and make scrambled eggs. In her poems, we feel the pain, the irritation, the longing to find happiness.
Jane was going to be an artist, but without her right hand, she can’t draw. At fifteen years old, she’s afraid of how people will look at her. She used to look twice at people with missing limbs too. And as Jane navigates the hospital, home and school with a missing arm, she also secretly begins to draw with her left hand.
Kelly Bingham‘s Shark Girl is a story of hope and persistence, but what is best about it is its tone. It’s never petulant, as one might expect. It is thoughtful, realistic and unexpected. Jane doesn’t feel like a strong person who is making through a tough situation that inspires others. She doesn’t act like it’s all going to be alright. Yet by the end, I did feel inspired in a quiet, assured way.