Books by Julie Reece Deaver

CHICAGO BLUES by Julie Reece Deaver
Released: June 30, 1995

``I have just kidnapped my eleven-year-old sister, although she doesn't know it yet.'' Thus begins a fine YA novel about Melissa Hastings``rock-solid responsible daughter, temporary parent''and her young charge, Marnie. Lissa is in her first semester of art school in Chicago when her alcoholic mother calls to say she can't control her drinking, or Marnie. Marnie moves in with Lissa in her tiny apartment, and the two try to redefine their roles. Deaver (You Bet Your Life, 1993, etc.) creates a compelling character in Lissa, 17, who struggles to balance school, ``parenthood,'' and her own artistic goals. She's not always sure what to do and she makes some mistakes, but in her efforts, emerges as a strong young woman with a lot of heart. The author aptly portrays the ups and downs of an ongoing relationship: Sometimes Marnie is angry at Lissa, sometimes she clings to her, and sometimes the two achieve a lighthearted camaraderie. The voices are authentic; the characters deal with powerful emotions that are never overstated, and are balanced with a healthy dose of humor. A tightly written novel about give and take, and knowing when to let go. (Fiction. 11-14)*justify no* Read full book review >
YOU BET YOUR LIFE by Julie Reece Deaver
Released: July 30, 1993

The author of Say Goodnight, Gracie (1988) explores similar themes while depicting a young comedian coming to terms with her mother's suicide. Like Deaver's earlier protagonists, Bess is involved in the performing arts. She's an after-school intern for a talk show; she's also drafted by Elliot, an aspiring comic who runs the building's elevator, as his partner for occasional appearances. Both are gifted—their witty repartee, on stage and off, is a delight—but Bess has trouble trusting any new relationship ever since her loving, irresistibly funny mother's death, which Bess experienced as desertion. Again, Deaver's supporting characters are uniformly wise and sympathetic: Dad, who's working through his own grief; Bess's boss, who becomes her confidante and mother-surrogate, but discreetly holds back until Bess is ready for closer ties; even Mom, who's presented as an exemplary parent who lost her battle with clinical depression. The result is a tad unrealistic, if heartwarming; but it allows Deaver to focus on Bess's loss and sense of betrayal and its resolution. Skillfully, she develops Mom's character and Bess's close relationship with her through conversations, memories, and Bess's troubled, diary-like letters to her, interspersed through the book. An unusually subtle and likable portrait of a talented, thoughtful young woman weathering with distinction the aftershocks of a trauma. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >