Books by Susan Shreve

Released: May 26, 2015

"An entertaining thriller with a feel-good ending that, despite its over-the-top plot, showcases the emotionally resonant ties that bind sisters and families. (Thriller. 8-12)"
After her niece is kidnapped from a hotel room, 12-year-old Jess must find the baby and get her back. Read full book review >
KISS ME TOMORROW by Susan Shreve
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

Entering Memorial Junior High is scary enough, but there are far worse changes in 13-year-old Blister Reed's life, including moving into a new house with her mother's surprise new boyfriend, and nearly losing her best friend Jonah. Wanting to be one of the popular boys, Jonah ignores her until, accused of shoplifting, he needs her help. On top of that, now he wants her to be his girlfriend. Feeling moody and out of control, Blister can't even count on herself. Luckily, her grandmother is still around to provide steady encouragement and the occasional lemon meringue pie. And happily, both the mother's boyfriend and "the creep across the street," who got Jonah into trouble, turn out to be better than she expected. This sequel to Blister (2001) stands on its own, with the events of Blister's elementary school years—including a stillborn baby sister, a divorce and her father's remarriage—smoothly woven in. Don't judge this by its chick-lit cover; this smoothly written family and friendship story perfectly captures the difficult balancing act of seventh grade. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
Released: July 13, 2004

Twelve-year-old Ellie Tremont has the blues until "bad boy" Tommy Bowers, who's been shuffled to different families, moves in next door. Although not popular and usually dutiful, Ellie has a penchant for telling lies and wants more excitement in her boring world. She's instantly intrigued by this boy with a past and has no intention of going to an all-girls summer camp now. Her mother quickly judges Tommy as a person to avoid, while Ellie has trouble reconciling Tommy's shoplifting and the Saturday morning camp for the neighborhood children he creates under the elderly Watson sisters' porch. Both begin to understand that Tommy's camp is a way to create his own family and that he is neither a bad boy or a good boy, but just a boy—a lesson that unites mother and daughter after weeks of arguing. Sipping lemonade out of wine glasses and feeling goose bumps from Tommy's touch, Ellie evokes the pangs of first love and the tension between eagerly leaving childhood behind and reluctantly embracing adolescence. (Fiction. 10-13)Read full book review >
TROUT AND ME by Susan Shreve
Released: Aug. 1, 2002

Ever since first grade, when he shoved a classmate's teddy bear into the toilet, everyone at Stockton Elementary "expected trouble" from Benjamin Carter, "so that's what they got." Diagnosed with ADD, learning disabilities, eye-hand coordination problems and saddled with a lisp, Ben's report cards are packed with "U's for Unsatisfactory and D's for Disrespectful, Disturbing, Difficult, Disorganized, Dumb, Dreadful, [and] Disgusting." Ben, who despite his behavior problems is essentially a nice boy, has always felt alone at school, a condition that his solid and smartly characterized family can't ameliorate. Then Trout, a tall, thin boy with a red question mark he claims was tattooed on his chin, moves to Ben's town, and suddenly Ben has both a buddy and a partner in crime. After a prank in which he and Trout cause pandemonium by tossing a hundred Super Balls down the school stairs, local parents improbably band together, eventually demanding that Trout be transferred to a school for troubled children. In a poignant but rather far-fetched plot maneuver, Ben is able to save the day by showing up at a parents' meeting at school to plead Trout's case and to explain what living with learning disabilities is like. The interaction between Trout and Ben is boyishly authentic but unlike George Harrar's Parents Wanted (2001) or the Joey Pigza series that give the reader a crazy, tilt-a-whirl feel of what it might be like to have ADD, Ben just seems like a regular kid who's somewhat unaccountably always in trouble. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
BLISTER by Susan Shreve
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

A ten-year-old girl goes about the task of re-creating herself when both her parents fail her utterly in this exploration of the backstory of a character first introduced in Shreve's Jonah, the Whale (1998). Alyssa Reed has always thought her life was just about perfect, until the truth of her parents' failing marriage confronts her starkly after her eagerly awaited little sister is stillborn. In fairly short order, her family moves away from their idyllic country home—and her delightfully feisty grandmother, a septuagenarian dance champion—to a featureless apartment complex in the city, and then her father moves out altogether, leaving Alyssa alone with her severely depressed mother. It is then that she christens herself "Blister": "Since she couldn't depend on her mother and father, who had turned out to be made of breakable glass, then she'd depend on herself. After all, she was ‘elastic' . . . " Blister's self-possession and sometimes crystalline awareness of the way of the world ("You decide we move, and so we move. That's control, and I don't have it," she tells her father) seem out of step with her previously sheltered existence and quite un-childlike, but her essential struggle to regain control over a life that's turned upside-down has the ring of truth. Elaborate (and psychologically perfect) daydreams form the foundations of plots to separate her father from her new girlfriend and to achieve fifth-grade popularity via cheerleading. They then fizzle when they confront reality, but the reader gets the sense that Blister won't be down for long. Spunky and resolute, Blister is a character many readers will understand intimately. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2000

PLB 0-679-99241-3 In Shreve's funny version of a junior high identity crisis, a good girl goes bad, but redeems herself before any real crimes have been committed. When Amanda gets to junior high, she's pretty much on her own. All of her old friends have either moved or are in other schools, and there aren't any new friends on the horizon. Amanda tries to dye her hair black, digs out her mother's old black clothes, a pair of clunky shoes, and dark lipstick, and sets out shock anyone looking on. At first it seems as if her efforts are paying off; she has already attracted the attention of the ninth-grade bad boy, Slade, and Fern, who wants Amanda to join her club. Amanda can't wait to be a member, but must first accompany Fern on a shoplifting mission. It turns out that the only person Amanda shocks is herself, and she takes stock of all the other strikes against her—bad grades, annoyed parents and teachers, the disgust of her little brother. Shreve is not forging new ground, but she provides a wonderful look at the rebels and wannabes inhabiting every junior high school on the planet, and creates in Slade a bad boy/romantic interest that will have readers rooting. The angst of starting out friendless in a new school is written across most pages, and other Amandas out there who find this refreshingly real. (Fiction. 10-13) Read full book review >
GHOST CATS by Susan Shreve
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

Rich in cats and ill of temper, this sketchy tale from Shreve (Jonah, The Whale, 1998, etc.) is narrated by a sixth grader who is not taking a change in family life well. It's an unusual sort of change: after more than a decade of moving from country to country, Peter's family has settled at last in a Boston townhouse, and he doesn't like the prospects of going to the same school for years, seeing his mother absorbed in law school studies, or watching his younger siblings exchange their old closeness for outside friendships. In flashbacks and snatches of dialogue, Peter angrily introduces each member of his household, including the six cats, as he recounts domestic tempests and incidents, family ties and rituals, plus an ambiguous subplot in which three cats die or disappear, then show up again in the final scene as ghosts. With parents who know when to pay attention and when to back off, Peter adjusts by school year's end, but the story is rescued from outright conventionality only by Peter's uncommon yen for the peripatetic life. Amy Goldman Koss's Ashwater Experiment (p. 723 ) is a livelier take on a similar theme, and Shreve's supernatural climax, despite the title, drops into the story like a stone. (Fiction. 10-12) Read full book review >
JONAH, THE WHALE by Susan Shreve
Released: May 1, 1998

An overweight boy transforms his fantasy of TV stardom into a formula for success in this poignant, affirming novel from Shreve (The Formerly Great Alexander Family, 1995, etc.). When his mother's boyfriend, Thomas, walks out on their family, 11-year-old Jonah barely has time to react before they move to a more affordable apartment. Feeling empty inside, missing his "almost-father," he overeats, and soon none of his three pairs of pants fits comfortably. But there's no money for new pants; Jonah's mother works two low-paying jobs to support him and his baby brother. When he is dubbed "Jonah the Whale" at his new school, rather than let the insult fester, Jonah turns the image into an unlikely symbol of empowerment: He imagines himself sitting inside a whale on the set of a new talk show exclusively for kids. While his grades and classwork suffer, Jonah methodically develops the idea for his show, selecting his first guests, choosing his questions, and even taping an imaginary interview with basketball star Michael Jordan. Some playground bragging forces Jonah to prove that he really talked to Jordan, and through the boy's initiative—and Jordan's kindness—Jonah succeeds. In fact, his first interviews are so impressive that he eventually winds up with his own television show, just as he dreamed. His other dream, that Jonah's mother and boyfriend reconcile, is also realized, the one false note in an uplifting tale with an unpredictable plot and a sympathetic, likable hero. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 1995

Liam, 10, thinks he has a nearly perfect family, so when his parents announce that they are separating, it takes him by surprise. Though it hits his three sisters hard, they seem more able to deal with it than he is. Liam just shuts down; he refuses to visit his father at his new apartment, tries (and fails) to keep the separation a secret from his friends, quits baseball, and ends up just hanging around the house, depressed and angry. Unlike so many novels of this type, Liam never come across as spoiled or bratty. Shreve (Lucy Forever, Miss Rosetree, and the Stolen Baby, 1994, etc.) captures a real child in simple, plain language, makes readers feel Liam's pain and anger, understand it, and share with him the perverse satisfaction that comes from holding on to sadness, and using it to lash out and hurt others. The third-person narration keeps the perspective strictly Liam's; he never knows the reason for the split, and neither do readers. With understatement, Shreve proves again that taciturn books may be the most powerful. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 8+) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

Lucy Forever, a.k.a. Lucy Childs, and Miss Rosetree (Rosie Treeman) are the sixth-graders who run Shrinks, Incorporated, a psychiatric office for their 468 imaginary cases. Whereas Rosie is one of ten children, Lucy is an only child, and she wants nothing more than to have a baby sister. Lucy's parents are unable to have more children, but Mrs. Childs tells Lucy that she would be happy to oblige if some baby fell into their laps and, amazingly enough, one does. Dr. and Mrs. Childs are prepared to pay to privately adopt the baby, who has been abandoned by her mother, but they don't count on the trouble that ensues. First the baby, and then Lucy, is kidnapped and held for ransom. Luckily, Miss Rosetree comes to the rescue and, thanks to her (and a few other people involved), Lucy is saved and given what she desires most—her very own baby sister. A dull but serviceable sequel to Lucy Forever & Miss Rosetree, Shrinks (1987). (Fiction. 8+) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

An overscheduled sixth-grader impulsively plays hooky on Halloween and is found out when her hyperconscientious single mother unexpectedly arrives at school for the Halloween parade. Mother and daughter share some truths they've hidden for fear of hurting each other: Amy doesn't really want all the ``advantages'' her mother's been laboring to provide, and her mother has a gentleman friend. This doesn't have the humor or tight structure of Shreve's earlier ``problem'' novels (The Bad Dreams of a Good Girl, 1982; The Flunking of Joshua T. Bates, 1984); alternating the point of view between Amy and her mother dilutes the focus a bit. Still: a sympathetic view of a child overburdened by a parent's ambitions. The Manhattan setting is particularly well realized. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >
WAIT FOR ME by Susan Shreve
Released: Aug. 21, 1992

Youngest of four, fifth-grader Molly has suddenly reached the point when it's time to be something more than the family baby. Her sibs are all in teen transitions: reliable confidante Sarah is preoccupied with a boyfriend, and seventh-grader Ellie won't even speak to Molly anymore. Even Mom, now practicing law like Dad, advises that ``You'll have to begin to make your very own life.'' And so Molly does, though at first reluctantly. Being put in a different class from her two best friends ultimately helps the process; perceptively, Shreve shows Molly feeling hurt when they add a new girl to the group but eventually realizing that the others have no wish to slight her. In a satisfying conclusion, Molly's family turns up to watch as she wins the 100- yard dash she's been training for. Warm and believable, an appealing story about a nice kid emerging from predictable growing pains with energy and style. Illustration not seen. (Fiction. 8-11) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 18, 1991

A compact, tender look at the awkwardness of adolescence, with a fairly insightful presentation of a best friend who happens to be deaf. Eliza is in crisis. She has been looking forward to the seventh-grade musical for years and has always known she was a shoo-in for the lead; now she is changing, within and without- -pimply, uncharacteristically sullen, and suddenly overweight, she decides not to audition, while her deaf friend Lucy hopes unrealistically for a starring role. Eliza agrees to help Lucy practice, in the process trying to unravel her feelings about herself and the world. Shreve's spare, first-person/present-tense narrative gives a clear perspective on Eliza's insecurities and her road back to self-confidence. The girls' friendship is based on tacit, long- standing acceptance of each other's strengths and weaknesses; Lucy's deafness is handled matter-of-factly, though some details (e.g., her obliviousness to the other girls' cruel teasing) don't ring quite true, even as products of Eliza's less-than-perfect powers of observation. Still, a mostly perceptive, easily read brief novel. (Fiction. 9+) Read full book review >