Recipient of the Canadian Young Adult Book Award, nine remarkable stories about girls in Nova Scotia, often told by a narrator looking back years later on a pivotal period, after its significance has become clear. Like the author, some of these wonderfully individual characters are gifted writers; in ""Lysandra's Poem,"" one such fiercely independent soul is described by a narrator whose conventional effort receives a local prize, thus winning the enmity of her far more talented friend. Miss Hancock, a seventh-grade teacher with a vividly flamboyant manner, inspires Charlotte with the power of language in ""The Metaphor""; when Miss Hancock reappears in high school, unable to get her rowdy students' attention, Charlotte tragically fails to tell her how much she still values the earlier lessons. Several stories turn on realignments of power in the family: oblivious to her true image, Juliette describes bullying her meek twin, Henrietta, until the day the young men suddenly see Henrietta's beauty. In the title story, an uneducated mother who has labored through The Feminine Mystique (found among clothes given her family by the Salvation Army) takes her 12-year-old daughter on a three-day timeout from their rudely demanding menfolk; the changes that ensue on their return are pathetically small--yet real. So beautifully written that they seem to have been lived rather than observed, rich in insight and splendidly grounded in time and place: a memorable collection.