Cover Image: The Disturbed Girl's Dictionary

The Disturbed Girl's Dictionary

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Member Reviews

An emotional read that me hard. I know that I have taught students who's home lives are similar.
One of those wonderful window/mirror books that everyone needs to read, especially teacher's with students with emotional/behavioural "coding".
I had no issues with the grammar mistakes, language , I loved the authentic style of writing and the voice it gave Macy. I loved Macy, she was funny, quirky and real.

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"We like two hands of the same clock. Always connected. Sometimes in our own space, but we always meet. Nothing without each other. At least I'm nothing without her."

Macy Cashmere (last name: MYOFB) is as "at-risk" youth as they come-- She's a racial minority, lives in poverty, comes from a very broken home, and is living with an emotional behavioral disorder (or 'disturbed' as she and others term it). With the cards stacked against her, Macy's every day life is just a series of endure and survive and carry on.

When we meet Macy, she has many things intertwining together that are causing her life to become complicated. Macy's younger brother, whom she adores, has been removed from the home by CPS, her father is incarcerated, her mother has no intentions of changing her lifestyle to better care for her child/children, and her best friend, Alma, who means the world to her (see quote above), is no longer speaking to her. What more could go wrong?!


This novel is written in a very interesting style and format. Written as a dictionary, Macy titles each entry with a word that means something to her life and journey. The grammar, spelling, slang-usage, and over-all vernacular match that of an adolescent living in poverty with a whole lot of grit and sass. This was very hard to get used to in the beginning, but I quickly adjusted and really admire the way that this showcases Macy's personality. 

And yall...  her personality is HILARIOUS.... 
"A bafroom stall? That's nasty. Ain't you never heard of McDonald's?"
"I stand there in my circle. But I'm not just a planet. I'm a star. I'm the sun and I burn like hell. Everybody needs me to shine, but I don't need them for nothing. I can look down on them but they can't look me in the eye. I burn. I burn because I'm mad. I'm mad enough to shine for the next zillion years. And you need me too. Love don't make this world go round. I do."

Macy is fierce, loyal, fearless, and headstrong. This girl has endured so many things during her short life that many could not even imagine. She has been forced to grow up in ways that a high school age student should not have to be experiencing already. Her heart beats for her younger brother and it is ripping her apart from the inside to know he is no longer with their family (and her mother does not seem to care). And this child's loyalty to her friends is so strong and admirable--even if she shows it in atypical ways sometimes. 

I loved that in the acknowledgements of this novel, Ramos states "Thank you, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, for rescuing me from the Dead White Men's Literary canon, for awakening the voices and cultivating the soil for future works. Everyone needs diverse books, and we need them written by diverse writers now and forever." This was such a powerful statement and she did such a beautiful job of representing diversity and representing the underrepresented in this novel. We see racial diversity and witness Macy endure racial discrimination. We see poverty. We see incarceration and how the CPS system both breaks families and restores lives. Obviously mental illness is a huge player in this game and I really enjoyed some of snide remarks that Ramos sneaks into Macy's dialogue that are so very real and 'disturbing' in themselves---"I guess here in suburbia, Asperger's is in style. Obviously having a emotionally disturbed kid ain't."

And there was possibly even some diversity in the form of LGBQT(??). As I was reading, I got the sense many times that Macy was experiencing some revelations in her own sexual identity. There are a lot of outside factors (especially ones involving men) that shape the way that she acts toward her own body and men, but I felt like there was some internal transformations occurring as well. Maybe I am wrong... let me know your thoughts in the comments if you have read this title! I would love to know what you think. But there were definitely some small moments where the author shed light on some of the injustices that are seen with adolescents from the LGBQT population.

"A fifty-year-old woman who's written up kids we all know for bringing their mom's cocaine to school, stabbing someone in the eye with a pencil, giving five-dollar hand jobs in the parking lot, could not write up two girls in the restroom because she thought we were lesbians.
That was too much for her."

If you read my blog, reviews, or know me in person, you probably already know that my heart and career are centered around working with middle school age students with emotional disabilities. This population often overlaps with minorities in both race and income, and I have had many students come through my classroom door that were part of the foster care (or group home) system. What I loved the most about this novel was that I could see the harsh realities and raw realism that was portrayed through Macy. I saw so many of my former students in her personality and the things she has overcome. Macy's story was not the first time that I have seen a child hate 3-day weekends because it meant that they had one extra day of not knowing where their next meal would come from or love school because they had heat, a roof over their head, and felt safe. 

I recommend this book to ANYONE... However, if you are an educator or work with at-risk youth in any way, this is a must read! Macy's voice is so realistic. She jumps off the page and slaps you in the face with a little dose of reality, which is something we all need in order to be able to fully understand the adolescents that we work with. You can gain so much insight from Macy and start to develop an understanding for the 'why's' for how she, as well as other students, may behave the way that they do. 

Trigger Warning(s): There are references (only) to sexual assault/rape. 

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a advanced DRC of this title in exchange for an honest review!

*Review also on Amazon. Will post link when approved.

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I need to start out by saying I did not finish this book. Not because I didn't want to, but because I could not. The description of this book made it sound different than what was actually portrayed in the book and the writing style was all over the place, childish, and the story line was very choppy. While the cover was appealing and the description was interesting, the story didn't add up.

I tried hard to get into the groove of this book. Even after the first few chapters of wanting to put it down, I pushed through hoping the story would level out and it would become easier to read. It did not. I've read books that were in a diary type model, which this book is, but the style of the writing fell very short. It had a childish energy to it. Each chapter seemed to be in a different place and nothing stayed flowing smoothly. I also found the unnecessary swearing a huge turn off. I understand that teenagers swear, but the number of curse words in this novel on a per chapter basis was a negative aspect. I would not encourage any teenagers to read this with that amount of foul language.

I always encourage readers to read a book for themselves and see how they feel about it and this is no different. Just because I don't enjoy this novel does not mean someone else won't. Check it out and I'll check out Ramos' next novel to see if I enjoy that one.

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I give this book 5 out of 5 Freakin Fantastic Stars! I am over the moon about this BOOK!

What attracted me to this book was the cover and the title, then I read the premise and was sold. This book meant more to me than pages in a book, I understood Macy. I was Macy.

I saw many reviews on this book and so many DNF this book because of the spelling and grammatical errors. I understand the need for proper grammer but this was about Macy expressing herself. I thought it was beautiful literature!
This was beyond realistic. When Macy battled Child Protective Services and dealt with all her raw and intense emotions, I was brought back to when I was considered the “disturbed” girl who didn’t have a chance in the system but proved them all wrong.
Being a teenager and facing more things than many adults will ever encounter in their lifetime is tough. When it’s the normal to go without food or deal with “the system” tearing your family apart, it’s tough as a teenager. You’re dealing with all these hormones and messed up emotions but have no idea what to do with it all because you have no choice but to be strong. I have seen the scary side of “the system” and my normal has been “disturbed” just like Macy’s. Macy comes off as a pain in the ass and an angry/crazy teenager. When Macy has all this on the outside, all she really is doing is trying to survive and hide her brokenness. I enjoyed all the characters in this story and loved their backgrounds. Alma and George were great in their sweet but complicated way. Macy’s mother was a complete hot mess. All the characters in this story were realistic in their own messed up and unique way.

This book made me laugh, smile, and cry but overall was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I can’t express enough how hilarious this book was and realistic at the same time. I highly recommend this book to whoever can relate or wants to experience something different! I am so glad that I was able to experience Macy’s journey and to read a disturbed girl’s masterpiece!

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This starts as almost a comedy. It's not that Macy's life is particularly funny but she has an interesting way of viewing the world and she has this spirit that refuses to be defeated. (Even though her brother has been taken by CPS and her mom veers between neglectful and abusive; even though she only has two friends; even though even though even though.) 

Then things take a dark turn and this book goes from heroic to heartbreaking. 

This is a book that will stay with me and Macy is a character I will never forget.

Highly recommended but go in emotionally prepared.

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Macy's story broke my heart. I think this will be a book students will read and recommend to their friends.

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This book. Holy shit. This book. I just. I want to pass this book out to my students and go "Look! Literature isn't just written by white people. You don't need to just read books by dead, white men! This is Your Story! Someone understands." I want to give this book to co-workers (and senators and other politicians) and go "Look! This is REAL. Get your head out off your ass and let's actually do something good."

I will be honest - I was a little apprehensive about reading this but the summary sucked me in completely. And then I read some of the reviews on goodreads by people who did not even finish reading this book because (and here I laughed) of misspellings and other issues. People, you need smacked upside the head with a clue by four. This book is not about you and your preconceived notions of what "good" literature is. This book is about Macy and the thousands of kids who live her life. And what their definition of good literature is.

Macy is a black teenager living in the definition of a destroyed home life. Her mother is no better than prostitute and is also constantly high. Her daddy is in jail. Her little sister is dead. Her brother was taken away by CPS. Her life is a mess and so is she. She's learned the rules she needs to so that she can survive. These rules don't make sense to someone who has a stable home life, but they work for Macy.

There is nothing pretty about this book. The ending isn't tied into a neat bow and there's no happy ever after for Macy. And that's real life and that's just how it goes.

This is an intense read, but it's worth your time.

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I was granted the ARC by Netgalley. It took me a bit to get into the rhythm and style of this very unique book, and when I did... BAM!! I was getting up in the morning before everyone else so I could read more about disturbed girl Macy. As a teacher I felt sad for her yet frustrated. Reader be aware, the content and language is mature but completely appropriate to the situation. Again, thank you Netgalley for this opportunity.

Meet, Macy Cashmere, a high school girl living in the margins of society. Obstinate, noncompliant and she knows very well that she emotionally disturbed. She’s a problem that no one can break through, whether at home or at school.

Macy is a child of neglect, abuse and poverty. And... Macy’s writing her own book—a secret dictionary that lays out the terms of the world as SHE views and understands them.

Macy’s had to grow up quickly. Her father is in prison. Home is chaotic, and basic necessities—from food to heat to a place to sleep are always at issue. Child Protective Services removed her younger brother and would like to take Macy too. Macy is old enough to make that decision herself and she stays.

In her own voice we view Macy going through her school routine. Although a problem student, Macy is nonetheless deeply engaged—in the well-being of her best friends, Alma and George. Her mother implies her daughter has no friends. Just one of the ways she is always wrecking her daughter’s self esteem

Her blunt, no-nonsense voice lays out her most gruesome and disturbing circumstances she is forced to endure. She tells her story with an honesty that's both hilarious and fearsome.

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The best thing about this book is that Macy doesn't understand any other way for life to be, so she presents it as she sees it -- there's no other lens or filter except the ones the readers bring. That being said, it can take a while to adjust to her worldview, and it will be uncomfortable. I found the beauty by page 60 (see entry: Bestie) and while I can identify with some of her experiences, it's good to hear a different voice; this is a great window book. I'd recommend for fans of Angie Thomas, Sharon Draper, or Ellen Hopkins.

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I am still trying to finish this book, it really bothers me the way the author decided to portray the characters, it's like every bad stereotype of teenagers that have no education at all. Unfortunately I work with students and none of the students I have worked with or teenagers I know really talked or act that way. So I'm still trying to give this book a chance.

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Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I'm but a few chapters into this book and, already, I'm very impressed. I can already see this book hitting home with many of my students because it's rare to find a book that is willing to present us with a protagonist who has social and environmental cards stacked against her, as do many of my students.

Macy Cashmere describes herself (as does everyone else seem to say) as disturbed. But, her brother is in foster care, having been taken away by Child Protective Services, her mom is often with "Mr. Guests," (and magically has money once they leave), and she feeds herself with crumbs from the couch or from her teacher, Miss Black, who seems to understand her plight but doesn't seem to do much else for her.

I've had and have Macys in my class every year and their situations break my heart on a daily basis. Finally. A protagonist who I can see my students connecting with because she IS them.

Thank you for this book NoNieqa Ramos.


Now that I've finished this book, I can fully give my opinion. It does not waver from what I said above and, so, five stars for this one!

This book is so painfully real and I praise Ranos for writing this book and showing how REAL real can be. She acknowledges Gabriel Garcia Marquez (in the "Acknowledgements" section) for helping to write diverse books and Ramos has succeeded in doing just that.

This isn't a happily-ever-after book because life isn't always a fairytale ending. Kids like Macy don't always get that ending, and that's what I mean about Ramos giving us what's REAL.

For Macy, making friends with prostitutes, hiding from Child Protective Services, not knowing when your mother will return from the club, carrying a machete for protection, and being sexually violated are just another part of her childhood that a lot of us can't even comprehend. But, it's real. And you can't hide from that. And, as a teacher, this is what some of my kids encounter on a daily basis.

I'm unsure of how I feel about the many things the reader is left to imply but I think I get it. Because this is told through a dictionary (really a diary-like) format, we see the story from Macy's point of view. Macy doesn't necessarily understand everything going on, though she's a smart girl, and she also excludes the reader from certain private information because that's what she has to do to survive.

But, for example, I don't understand why George has to wear a helmet. I'm inclined to say it's because he has Autism of some sort but I'm not entirely sure because Macy isn't entirely sure. He reminded me quite a bit if George from Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men"--a gentle, giant who loves too much.

My heart breaks for Alma. I get the whole watching-your-siblings-thing and how much that can weigh on someone. But I was rooting for her as much as Macy and I still am. It also killed me that she talked about how education failed her when it should have saved her.

I'm not sure how I feel about Miss Black. I've never worked in an urban school, which isn't to say that I don't have students like Macy because I do. But, I am trained to immediately reach out to my administration and social work crew when I feel that a student is being mistreated or left alone or hungry. Miss Black doesn't do this but she sure bribes Macy with quite a bit of food.

I think Alma says it best, though. When her teachers ask her what's going on and if she's okay, she lies and says everything is okay because she can't risk Child Protective Services coming to her house and separating her from all her younger siblings. CPS has always been a double-edged sword. Is it better to take a child from awful conditions and put them into a foster home? Yes, yes of course it is! But, when you're Alma and you have six baby siblings? It's a different story. I also don't understand how it is that Zane can be taken but Macy gets left behind with her mom. I know Macy attempts to explain it but I'm not satisfied and I know that the system is very similar to what's presented in the book.

Overall, this is not your feel-good-about-life book but it's eye-opening and sad and funny and heartfelt and leaving you wanting more.

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The first intuition of some readers may be to give up early on because of the poor grammar of this book. If you do, you will miss out on an amazing and emotional story!

The protagonist is a black girl from a poor section of America. She has an attitude that gets her into trouble, and seemingly few friends. This type of person is usually shunned in our communities. Fight through the desire to shun this book.

As you read, you start to realize that her "attitude" is what keeps her safe. The friends she does have, are extremely close. She is full of love, but knows a lot about danger, grief, and hate. Her journey, along with that of her family members and her friends, shape her in ways that most may never experience, nor want to.

However, this "Dictionary" opens up a world in which we begin to care about what happens to this girl and why she is forced into action. What is even better, though, is how she gathers strength to fight for her friends, her little brother, and most important, herself. Stick with her. In the end you will HEART her.

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Still currently reading but just had to put in my two cents in regards to people “rating” this novel. I’m just wondering if any of these readers been teachers in an inner city school or if any readers (who gave low ratings to this novel) have ever come in contact with children (yes, children) who behave this way? Life in an urban setting is very scary and this character has (not acclimated to) but grown up in this setting. Thus the manner of writing reflects the character’s environment. Seems like it’s easy to judge when you’ve never experienced this environment, but so far I’m impressed with the accuracy and the overall character development.

*edited to 5 stars upon finishing*

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I picked up this book because I wanted to read something outside of my normal genres and I was intrigued by a book written in the format of a dictionary. I appreciate that this could be a good insight into the life of a troubled girl with a very difficult life, but I could not get into it. I picked up this book because I wanted to read something outside of my normal genres and I was intrigued by a book written in the format of a dictionary. I appreciate that this could be a good insight into the life of a troubled girl with a very difficult life, but I could not get into it. I can see it making its way onto the reading list for Teen Literature classes in MLIS programs.

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I've read better fan fiction than this. The stylistic choice (I hope it was a choice and not the author's) to write with terrible grammar and accent pulled me from the story so much that I really don't know what the story was truly about. Very amateur all around.

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