By Tim Tharp
Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99, 308 pages

Tim Tharp, award-winning author of Knights of Hill County and The Spectacular Now once again captures a strong adolescent voice in BADD. “Bullies start things. Badasses finish them” is Ceejay’s mantra. She grew up idolizing her older brother, Bobby, who always got into mischief, but had a good heart and doted on her, teaching her to take care of herself and stand up for weaker kids.

After Bobby returns from Iraq, however, he is completely different. Suffering from PTSD, he is angry, depressed and self-destructive. “You think I’m the tough dude who protected you, who stuck up for little dudes against bullies?”, he asks Ceejay, “that guy got killed in the war”. Ceejay’s tomboy stance softens as she tries to save her brother from himself and from Captain Crazy, the town lunatic, and as she deals with her feelings for Padget, the new kid in town who dresses all in white and helps Captain Crazy with his junk sculptures. Ultimately, Ceejay learns the importance of family, and that being a tough girl doesn’t mean she has to close off her heart to love. BADD is a great read for strong young women with a soft side to them.

Reviewed by Emily Davis