THE TOWER ROOM

The author of, most recently, Happy Endings (1991) begins a trilogy about British schoolgirls whose lives parallel familiar fairy tales. Protagonist Megan (Rapunzel) is an orphan whose schoolmistress guardian, Dorothy, satisfied Megan's mother's craving for asparagus (a stand-in for rampion/rape) before Megan's birth. With intriguing ingenuity, Geras mimics the original tale: the three girls room in a tower conveniently equipped with a workmen's scaffold that Simon, a young science instructor, climbs for trysts with Megan; Dorothy, who also entertains romantic notions about Simon, discovers the guilty pair and exiles them after crushing Simon's glasses. Geras writes with imagination and grace, following the story of ``Rapunzel'' but also having Megan narrate from a London flat where the lovers are confronting the unromantic realities of dead-end jobs—an instructive contrast to the ardent scenes in the tower. Here, too, as in the original story, the characters are schematic—Simon, especially, exists as a one-dimensional object of passion (another sly lesson). But what most holds attention is the fascinating parallel between the credible modern details and the original. Roommates Bella, whose jealous stepmother plies her with apples, and Alice, one of whose 13 aunts caused a fuss at her christening, presage the pleasures in the books to follow. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-15-289627-9

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1992

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TWILIGHT

From the Twilight series , Vol. 1

Sun-loving Bella meets her demon lover in a vampire tale strongly reminiscent of Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. When Bella moves to rainy Forks, Wash., to live with her father, she just wants to fit in without drawing any attention. Unfortunately, she’s drawn the eye of aloof, gorgeous and wealthy classmate Edward. His behavior toward Bella wavers wildly between apparent distaste and seductive flirtation. Bella learns Edward’s appalling (and appealing) secret: He and his family are vampires. Though Edward nobly warns Bella away, she ignores the human boys who court her and chooses her vampiric suitor. An all-vampire baseball game in a late-night thunderstorm—an amusing gothic take on American family togetherness that balances some of the tale’s romantic excesses—draws Bella and her loved ones into terrible danger. This is far from perfect: Edward’s portrayal as monstrous tragic hero is overly Byronic, and Bella’s appeal is based on magic rather than character. Nonetheless, the portrayal of dangerous lovers hits the spot; fans of dark romance will find it hard to resist. (Fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-316-16017-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2005

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Junior’s keen cartoons sprinkle the pages as his fluid narration deftly mingles raw feeling with funny, sardonic insight.

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THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN

Alexie nimbly blends sharp wit with unapologetic emotion in his first foray into young-adult literature.

Fourteen-year-old Junior is a cartoonist and bookworm with a violent but protective best friend Rowdy. Soon after they start freshman year, Junior boldly transfers from a school on the Spokane reservation to one in a tiny white town 22 miles away. Despite his parents’ frequent lack of gas money (they’re a “poor-ass family”), racism at school and many crushing deaths at home, he manages the year. Rowdy rejects him, feeling betrayed, and their competing basketball teams take on mammoth symbolic proportions. The reservation’s poverty and desolate alcoholism offer early mortality and broken dreams, but Junior’s knowledge that he must leave is rooted in love and respect for his family and the Spokane tribe. He also realizes how many other tribes he has, from “the tribe of boys who really miss . . . their best friends” to “the tribe of tortilla chips-and-salsa lovers.”

Junior’s keen cartoons sprinkle the pages as his fluid narration deftly mingles raw feeling with funny, sardonic insight. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01368-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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