In her debut YA novel, Kristine Scarrow draws on a degree in psychology, social work experience, and obvious talent to tell the story of Andy Burton, a girl who spends most of her life without a stable home.
When Andy’s Grade 4 teacher notices telltale bruises on the girl’s body from her abusive mother, Andy’s life changes forever. She’s placed in a foster home, where she finds the loving family she’s always hoped for. Everything is perfect, until Andy’s foster parents are killed in a tragic accident.
The narrative then moves into the gritty world of short-term foster care, with chapters alternating between past and present. In addition to the abuse and neglect she experiences as a child, teenaged Andy is raped, loses her best friend to suicide, and finds comfort in bottles of cheap liquor and the arms of her would-be pimp. Nearing legal adulthood, Andy ends up in a group home for girls where the kind-hearted staff help her prepare for a new, independent life.
Throwaway Girl is is a rich, eye-opening novel that has the potential to create empathy in young readers. It introduces tough themes that reflect a harsh reality, but it always rings true, and Scarrow has created a believable character in Andy.
However, teachers and librarians should be aware that the book contains graphic content. Although it’s suggested for ages 12 and up, the abuse, rape, and suicide scenes may be inappropriate for readers younger than 14.