Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mice; Gordon Reece

Title: Mice
Author: Gordon Reece
Publication Year: 2011 
Publisher: Viking Adult
Edition: hardcover
Source: publisher
Date Completed: 8/1/2011 
Rating: 3.5/5
Recommend: yes (as a YA novel)

Fifteen year old Shelley Rivers and her mom are like "mice" : they fear confrontation, have trouble sticking up for themselves, and both seem a bit uncomfortable in their own skin.

Shelley has led a pretty sheltered life. Her mom was a brilliant lawyer, but she choose to stick to procedural research which felt more comfortable for her. She left her job when she was pregnant for Shelley to be a stay at home mother, because that is what her husband wanted her to do.  Shelley had two best friends from age nine,  Emily and Jane. All three girls studied hard and got good grades, but when the girls entered their teen years, Emily and Jane let their grades slip, began dressing like punks, and changed their focus to makeup and boys.  Shelley still wore her jumpers and buckle shoes, and preferred her books to the wilder activities of her friends.

Her friends soon began to exclude her, tease her about her looks and her extra weight, and even began destroying her possessions. Shelley even considers suicide.  A classic case of bullying, Shelley did not tell her mom or her teachers, fearing it would only make the situation worst.  When things get out of hand and Shelley is injured, the world of this mother and daughter is forever changed.  Shelley's father leaves the "matrimonial" home after falling in love with a much younger woman, and he they move far away.  Shelley is encouraged to leave school and have private tutors instead.

Mom and daughter find a new home, a lovely remote cottage with gardens in the middle of nowhere. Her mom goes off to work each day and Shelley has tutors that come to their new home each day.  The two soon fall into the new rhythm of daily life, and are enjoying their life of routines. "Mice", however, cannot hide indefinitely, and on the eve of Shelley's sixteenth birthday, the security of that new peaceful existence is shattered when their home is broken into while they sleep.

What happens from this point on between mother and daughter and the burglar is a series of events, some so far fetched that I had to just suspend logic.  Without giving any spoilers, I'll just say that there seemed to be a moral to the story.....those who stick up for themselves, will no longer feel like mice.

While the first half of the book had me eagerly flipping pages, the second half  was somewhat disappointing. The situation as it played out seemed highly unlikely and actually a bit laughable.  I originally was excited about this book as  bullying is a real issue and all too commonplace it seems. I thought this book was a psychological thriller, and in some ways it was,  but this novel  really seemed more in the YA genre, and that is the audience that I believe it will get high marks from. The author did a good job portraying Shelley as a sympathetic character as the bullying incidents seemed very realistic and it was easy to feel for Shelley and her situation.  The fact that she felt she couldn't tell anyone about what was going on, and that maybe suicide would be the only way out of her situation, also seemed like things that some teens would be thinking under the circumstances.  The author also did a great job building tension and suspense into this story. Even though this did not turn out exactly as I had hoped, in the end I was still glad I read it.


  1. I checked Mice out the first time you mentioned it - in my library it is in the YA section.

  2. I am sad that this one did not turn out to be great. I had high hopes for this one, after you featured it in your intros.

  3. I got excited reading the first part of your review, as this sounded like something I would like, but your comments about the second half of the book, and the incredulity of the story made me think I will pass on this one...thanks for the honest review, it's so helpful when there are so many books out there!

  4. It sounds like a good story - too bad it had to become far fetched.

  5. Thanks for your review, Diane. This definitely looks like more of a YA title from your description. I was looking forward to your review of this, but now I'm not thinking it's for me.

  6. It is a shame that its promising first half disintergrated in the last half.

  7. And I thought you were going to talk about mice in the house. :<) I came down the other morning to find a tomato left on the counter neatly chewed. Happy mouse.

  8. Don't you wonder what the author was thinking when the storyline suddenly gets weird?

    Someone else reviewed this one recently and wasn't as careful about giving away the plot. It seemed so silly and ridiculous from what she said.

  9. I liked the sound of this one, all up until the point where things begin to get unbelievable. I also had high hopes for this book and was hoping to grab it, but now I am not so sure. Perhaps this would make a good book for my teenage daughter, who could then let me know if I would like it or not. Great review. I like that you give just enough synopsis to let me know if I would like it, without giving too much away. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one with us.

  10. I was getting so excited reading your review but it seems like it took a strange turn there. Still, it sounds promising.

  11. Bullying is such a hot topic right now, but this is probably not one I'll be checking out. But, then again, I'm not a young adult ;)

  12. The first half of this book sounds quite good and very realistic. I know I'll cringe when Shelley is bullied and especially when she's injured. But even without having read it, the second half sounds a little unrealistic. I'm interested in what happens to Shelley, though. I'm also curious about how the school handles the bullying since you said that Shelley is encouraged to leave school and be tutored. Some schools, it seems, don't know what to do about bullys and so, don't do anything.

    I'm going to look more into this book especially since you are happy you read it despite the problems. I really appreciate your honesty in your reviews, Diane :o)

  13. I'm sorry that the second half wasn't better but that overall you did enjoy your reading experience. Not sure if this is one that I'll add to my list or not.

  14. I think I've vaguely heard about this one, but I don't remember. Either ways, it sounds good! Sorry about the disappointing second half, but I think I will still add this to my list.

  15. I've read some really good YA but 'Mice' doesn't sound so great after all. Thanks for your thoughts on this one, Diane.


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