Fixing Delilah, by Sarah Ockler; Little, Brown
and Company: New York, 2010; $16.99
Sarah Ockler’s Fixing Delilah follows Delilah Hannaford (a sixteen-year-old girl) as she discovers her family’s secrets and learns the true importance of family. The novel starts with Delilah and her boyfriend, Finn, who do not like each other but are dating. Delilah, a slightly arrogant girl, is going back to Vermont to bury her grandmother. She hasn’t seen her since she was eight (because of a fight between Delilah’s mother, Claire, and her grandmother). While in Vermont, Delilah starts digging up secrets that Aunt Rachel, her grandmother, and her mother, buried deep. She learns the cause of the fight that split the family apart, the true story about why she didn’t have a dad, and the mystery behind Aunt Stephanie’s death at eighteen. She also meets her old friend Patrick, and Sarah Ockler surprises us with some pleasant romance. The book deals with three main themes that are relevant to most teenagers: secrets, love, and the true meaning of family.
I think most readers of Fixing Delilah can relate to Delilah growing up without a father. Unfortunately, I know a lot of kids whose parents are divorced, and I can’t help wondering about how hard it must be for them to adapt to their lives. Also, I’m sure there are those who experienced a similar situation to the Hannaford Family Fight because, as it says on the cover of the book: “Family. It’s not always a perfect fit.” Sometimes family members just don’t get along. My only problem with the fight was its length (eight years is half of Delilah’s life!), and even that was clarified when I learned more about the grandmother.
I could relate to Aunt Rachel because she reminded me of the bystander. She knew about the secrets and wanted to tell Delilah because it was the right thing to do, but Claire had told her not to. I was like Aunt Rachel once when a boy in my class was being bullied. I knew that the right thing to do was to speak up for him, but I was silent. In addition to seeing myself in Aunt Rachel, I saw myself in Delilah sometimes because I can be selfish and uncompassionate. It made me realize how unlikable I must be during some occasions. I didn’t always like Delilah, so I imagine my parents don’t always like the way I act.
As for the love theme, Sarah Ockler was clever to include Finn, in order to contrast Delilah’s relationship with him with her later relationship with Patrick, an eighteen-year-old boy and a childhood friend of Delilah’s. At some times during Fixing Delilah I was almost crying because of the beauty of their romance and the sweet innocence of it. I didn’t think their romance was cheesy. I found the author’s descriptions unique and touching, and I felt like this was the time her writing truly stood out and shone.
I went through many emotions while reading Fixing Delilah. At times I wanted to cry because it was sad, at times because it was beautiful, and at times because I was laughing my head off. The themes were very easy to relate to. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Fixing Delilah, which proves the author’s remarkable humor. “‘I’ll go,’ Rachel says. ‘Need anything specific? Milk? Toilet paper? Compassion, maybe? I’ll get a bunch. I probably have a coupon.’”