THE OTHER SHEPARDS

Griffin (Sons of Liberty, 1997, etc.) peeks into the lives of two sisters, eighth-grader Holland and sixth-grader Geneva Shepard, who live in the shadow of three older siblings killed 18 years ago—before Holland and Geneva were born. The girls are haunted by these siblings through their parents’ emotionally crippled behavior and the legendary status of the tragedy in their New York City community. Holland and obsessive-compulsive Geneva literally confront these ghosts when Annie appears in their lives; wearier every time the girls see her, she is ostensibly a muralist and guardian angel of sorts, guiding the girls to find their paths apart from the family tragedy. Annie’s identity and the direction of the plot are obvious; the premise is haunting and poetic, but is squandered in Holland’s fairly conventional blossoming relationship with a boy and Geneva’s neuroses. The awkwardness of Holland’s narration is compelling at first; she and Geneva act more like tenants in their parents’ lives than beloved members of a family. Then a more pretentious tone emerges: “They will continue to meet in the twilight kingdom of their dining room, and their grief is a feast of pain I can not touch.” A brighter fate for the girls is promised, but whether this devastated family has a real happy ending isn’t answered in these pages. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-7868-0423-8

Page Count: 218

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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