Daily life is pretty dreary for eleven year old Reggie. She's already mastered the art of dumpster diving for scraps of food and being her own parent. Her mother, dangerously close to a full break with sanity, is of little help. Reggie has invented a dream world where she and her best friend, Tough Girl, battle aliens for glory. Life is manageable until new neighbors move in and Reggie's dream world begins to unravel.
I find violence reprehensible. I want to make that perfectly clear. However, I write about violence pretty frequently. Why? Mostly because I often write about the things that scare me. It's my attempt to understand the world around me and the world I see is often big and frightening.
I didn't grow up in a bad neighborhood. It was just your average suburb. Dale City, my home town, is the setting of Tough Girl and I lived in The Apartments briefly when I was in fifth grade. Even in our normal suburb, there was a fair amount of daily violence. I remember there was a day in high school when seven fights broke out. I personally knew someone who was beaten, tied down, and set on fire. Actually, I know several people who were set on fire. In southern Virginia, I lived across the street from a man that routinely abused his kids. In Missouri, I lived in the apartment below another child abuser. Violence was all around me, not on a daily basis but it was definitely more frequent than I desired.
Reggie's world is not extremely violent. She is not routinely beaten nor does she witness anyone that is routinely beaten. But her world, much like mine, is no stranger to fist fights and the occasional murder. The nightly news makes sure we are all well aware of outbursts of rage and anger. Violence bleeds over into her fantasy life as well and it plays a key role in her understanding of the world.