Perceptions in The Shore Girl

I feel like in our Canadian Young Adult Literature class we have talked a lot about The Shore Girl by Fran Kimmel. It seems to me that the consensus of the class though was that if we wouldn’t have had to read this text specifically for class it might not be a book that any of us would continue. Some of the reasons given for not wanting to continue the novel was because the book was slow, too much fragmentation, and the lack of knowledge about Rebee as a character. Even though I agree with these observations to some degree I on the other hand also really appreciated the novel. I mean I agree that I might not have thought to pick this book up if I saw it in Chapters or Indigo. Mainly because it isn’t really part of my typical genre of young adult books that I go for, I am more of the fantasy/fast action paced novel reader. Despite this I still think this book has a really important place as a young adult text.

When I picked it up and started reading it my first fascination was with the different narrators. Yes, this can be seen as a negative because we don’t know what Rebee is thinking but I also think that this is what makes the novel so fascinating. In my experience with young adult literature most of them are in first person where we see everything through the the main character or protagonists eyes. The Shore Girl slightly follows this by having some chapters that are in Rebee’s perspective but it also has perspectives in other character’s eyes. I think this way we get more of a realistic depiction of who someone is. Most people are not simply described as who they are simply by their own thoughts but also the perception of others plays a big role in an individual’s identity. I think that is what makes The Shore Girl a very interesting book once you get past the pace, fragmentation, and the shifting of narration you can appreciate the different way it deals with character identity. This is an accurate depiction of what life can be like sometimes. Even though I might not have picked up this book myself I think that reading it has created an experience that I haven’t experienced in much other young adult literature I have read. This book truly is about the perceptions of how one views another.

Before, I wrote this blog post I decided to Google The Shore Girl to see what came up and someone had posted an interesting picture specifically related to the novel that said:

Since I was discussing earlier that this novel emphasizes the perceptions of others this quote seems to describe the purpose for that exactly. Since we are able to see how other people view Rebee we are able to understand why people such as Miss. Bel, Jake, Joey, and Aunt Vic are so enthralled with her and her situation. We get this missing puzzle piece about Rebee that we might not have gotten if we hadn’t seen the narration of her story through others.

She ties people in and we get to see that. I think this concept is really relatable for young adults because we all have people in our lives that we meet that maybe only touch our lives for a short time. We don’t always know what these important people are always thinking about us. If as readers we are supposed to be placing ourselves in the protagonist’s shoes in The Shore Girl unlike most novels, we get to see exactly how people think of “us”. I think that this effect becomes greater when there are certain situations where an individual specifically identifies with Rebee as a character. Therefore, Rebee who might feel as if she is unloved or has nobodym we as readers because of the shifting of narration discover that this is not the case. Instead it is Rebee’s inability to keep these ties that is really what inhibits her.


-Marissa Boles


4 thoughts on “Perceptions in The Shore Girl

  1. Peyton says:

    Yes, in “The Shore Girl” we get told what people think of Rebee; however, this is not very realistic. Most of the time when we meet people we do not get their entire life story, but instead just the highlights, or what they want us to know. I do not like the narration of “The Shore Girl,” but I do believe it is a different and interesting style of layout. I do not think that people will relate to the fact that we get different perspectives of Rebee, but instead to Rebee’s pursuit to find identity and home. I am pretty sure if we learned what people really thought of us we would not be happy about what they would have to say. We all have good and bad qualities, but we do not always want to be told what these qualities are. Some people that touch are lives we remember and mean a lot and others not so much, so yes I can see the amount of characters as relatable, but learning what they think of Rebee is not. I know that I would not like to hear what people think of me because I already know what they would have to say, which is why I do not think that kids, especially since they are at a more fragile stage, would also not want to learn what people think of them.


  2. Marissa says:

    Yeah sure it is hard to hear sometimes what people think of us but I think it is what makes this story so honest. Not all the characters say negative things about Rebee, so we get to understand why these other characters like her so much. I think more what I was trying to get at was that we have perceptions of why we like people or why we don’t. In The Shore Girl these perceptions are more clearly laid out for us to see as why Rebee is such an interesting person and why certain characters can’t seem to let her go. I think everyone to some degree is curious as to why the people in our lives stay in our lives and would probably like to know why that is the case. Thanks for the comment! 🙂


  3. I remember being obsessed with how people saw me in middle school and trying to understand who I was. The person I was was so different from the person my parents’ saw me as, who was different yet again from the person my friends or brother saw me as. At that time in my life, reconciling all of those different opinions of me became strangely important in my quest to find my own identity. I think it’s really cool that you noticed the ways in which identity can be different depending on who is looking at you and I think it’s a really interesting aspect of this text that I hadn’t considered before. I think it would be helpful for a young adult struggling with their identity to see how different characters perceived Rebee.
    Awesome post!


  4. Marissa says:

    Thanks Cayley! 🙂
    The more I think about the more I do realize that someone like Rebee who might think she is worthless, or that people do not care about her, or that people just always leave; the text reflects that assumptions of what others think can contribute to our own identity even if they aren’t always true. Rebee could think that the people in her her life think these types of things about her but really when we see their point of view we realize that they actually do see something interesting about her and they leave only because of other circumstances/struggles in their own life.


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