TOMATO GIRL by Jayne Pupek

I've read a number of positive blog reviews lately of Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek. From Amazon:

Tomato For eleven-year-old Ellie Sanders, her father has always been the rock that she could cling to when her mother's emotional troubles became too frightening. But when he comes under the thrall of the pretty teenager who raises vegetables and tomatoes for sale at the general store that he runs, Ellie sees her security slowly slipping away. Now she must be witness and warden to her mother's gradual slide into madness.

Told from Ellie's point of view, Tomato Girl takes the reader into the soul of a terrified young girl clinging desperately to childhood while being forced into adulthood years before she is ready. To save herself, she creates a secret world, a place in which her mother gets well, her father returns to being the man he was, and the Tomato Girl is banished forever. Tomato Girl marks the debut of a gifted and promising new author who has written a timeless Southern novel.

Breaking the Spine says:

In a word, this book is Tragic (capital T intended). It seems that Ellie meets tragedy at every turn, as her heart is broken again and again during this novel. Just when it seems that the weight on her shoulders couldn't get any heavier, it does, and the burden is unimaginable.

That said, the book is also utterly compelling. On one hand, I almost hesitate to recommend it to others to read, as it's dark…and it gets darker and darker. So, be warned. But, I really want to recommend it, as the writing is amazing, especially for a debut novel, and the story is beyond engaging. I think I read this book in one single breath.

Bibliolatry says: "Disturbing, engrossing, and fast-paced, Tomato Girl is the perfect complement for the fall season." 

Cindy's Love of Books calls it one of her favorite reads of 2008. Here's an interview she did with Jayne Pupek.

This sounds very good, but also very sad. As the mom of young girls, just reading the synopsis is very painful! But I may have to give it a try.