By Ginger Simpson
Our shortcomings don't define who we are, unless we let them. Cindy Johnson needs to learn that. Born with one leg shorter than the other, she has no self-esteem because of the cruel comments and cold stares she receives from her classmates. When Cory Neil, the football quarterback asks her to Homecoming, she's quite sure he's asked her on a dare and refuses. It takes more than just her mother's assurances that Cindy's beautiful before she realizes she may have made a mistake in turning him down.
The first sentence of Ms. Simpson's blurb for Shortcomings says it all…Our shortcomings don’t define us… But it’s the last part of her first sentence that should scream out at each and every one of us…UNLESS WE LET THEM.
Ms. Simpson’s book, Shortcomings, is a story of personal growth and building our own strengths as Cindy accepts and loves the person she is. We all have our own shortcomings; something we don’t like about ourselves, whether it is weight, hair, looks, or like Cindy, one leg shorter than the other. But it is how we accept ourselves that defines our lives. Cindy struggled with it—immensely. Ms. Simpson does a great job allowing the reader to see the depth of Cindy’s struggles. We can empathize and understand. Most of us have been there at one point or another.
Cindy, 17 and a senior in high school, has recently moved to a new town. Not only does she have to deal with being the new kid in school, but she must endure the stares, whispers and taunts of her ‘limp’ that make her self-conscious and embarrassed. When the star quarterback (her secret crush) asks her for help with his math, she ignores her desires thinking he only wants help because he needs to pass the class to remain on the team. When he asks her to a dance, she believes she is the butt of a cruel joke. Why would he ask her to a dance when she obviously can’t ‘dance!’
To ease her loneliness, Cindy applies for a job at a local salon and becomes the new go-for for the quirky, but confident, owner. Finally, Cindy makes a friend at school, only to witness her friend humiliated by the same antagonist that taunts her. Cindy jumps at the chance to help her friend grow, not even realizing her friend is helping her grow as well. Strength can be found in even the smallest of motives.
In this light romantic and compelling story Cindy triumphs over her shortcomings to become a positive role model for teens and adults alike; to express what it took for this one girl to overcome her own limitations and find happiness and acceptance. Ms. Simpson weaves a great story. It’s not an easy fix for Cindy. She doesn’t always make the right choices. And sometimes she is her own worst enemy. It’s a very true-to-life story which I found almost too coincidental with how I feel about my own self at times. But it’s a story I can use as a tool to manage my own self-esteem and grow in loving myself.
I enjoyed Shortcomings and give it five stars and hope all teens and pre-teens will read it and apply it to their own lives. For those that see their own shortcomings in themselves, I hope they will find the courage and strength to love themselves and not let those that would persecute them take their self-esteem away. And for those that are on the bullying side, may the see just what those cruel words and jokes do to the image of another.
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