Her baby sister, Ella
Her cat, Augustus Gloop
Making lists in her journal
Eating junk food (secretly)
Things Hershey does not love:
Her mother's boyfriend Slade
Once, while having an argument with Hershey's mom, Slade threw a glass across the room. It shattered and a piece went into Hershey's eye. She had to have surgery and get glasses. Her mom swore she'd never go back to Slade - a promise she broke quickly when she learned she was having a baby. Now Ella is two years old and Hershey's going into eighth grade. After another big fight with Slade, their mother decides to move them into a women's shelter.
Even though they aren't supposed to tell anyone where they are living, Hershey spills the beans to her best friend. She can't take Augustus to the shelter, so she begs Phoebe to cat-sit. Phoebe, who is a fantastic juggler and a great secret-keeper, is a little wary of cats, but she agrees to take him in - even though she has her own problems at home with her injured and thus currently off-work father.
At the shelter, Hershey meets a wide array of women and families. They don't all get along, but they all chip in to keep the shelter safe and sound. Some of the women are hiding from their spouses or boyfriends. Some of the kids run wild. A few of the adults have hidden talents that they share with Hershey, including an elderly woman named Lupe who otherwise keeps to herself.
As Lupe teaches Hershey how to play the piano, the young girl slowly learns to fill herself with music and with hope instead of with junk food. Because of this, she is able to hold her head up high when performing at the local talent show and when confronted by bullies at school and at home.
Kudos to MiX for mixing it up and creating a line which tackles both serious and comedic but always realistic elements of life for tweens.
Even more kudos to author Cecilia Galante for writing this story and tackling a subject which is often neglected in juvenile fiction. Galante's own experience with relationship abuse as an adult inspired her to write Hershey Herself, as well as this powerful piece.
Hershey Herself is recommended for ages 10 and up.
Read my 2008 interview with author Cecilia Galante.
Read my 2012 interview with Cecilia Galante.