THINGS NOT SEEN

Clements (The Jacket, above, etc.) looks beyond grade school for the first time with a multifaceted rumination on selfhood and various forms of invisibility. Fifteen-year-old Bobby wakes up invisible one morning. His equally flummoxed parents, quickly grasping the personal and social dangers should the news get out, urge him to hole up at home. But boredom, worry, and the mutinous thought that he should have some say in the matter soon lead him into a string of adventurous outings, both wrapped up Invisible Man–style, and stark naked. Clements cranks up the stress with an ensuing traffic accident that puts both parents into the hospital, and, as weeks pass, the increasingly persistent attentions of the governmental child-welfare machine. He also provides a needed confidante for Bobby in Alicia, a teenager blinded by a head injury two years before and no stranger herself to that sense of being unseen. Both feeling angry, scared, and vulnerable, their relationship gets off to a wonderfully tumultuous start, but builds on a foundation of caring and loyalty into something solid enough to survive Bobby’s final return to visibility. As always, Clements’s genius for developing credible plot lines (even from oddball premises) makes suspension of disbelief no problem. His characters, each one fundamentally decent—there is never a chance that Bobby will go the way of the transparent voyeur in Cormier’s Fade (1988), for instance—are easy to like. A readable, thought-provoking tour de force, alive with stimulating ideas, hard choices, and young people discovering bright possibilities ahead. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23626-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli.

DEAD WEDNESDAY

For two teenagers, a small town’s annual cautionary ritual becomes both a life- and a death-changing experience.

On the second Wednesday in June, every eighth grader in Amber Springs, Pennsylvania, gets a black shirt, the name and picture of a teen killed the previous year through reckless behavior—and the silent treatment from everyone in town. Like many of his classmates, shy, self-conscious Robbie “Worm” Tarnauer has been looking forward to Dead Wed as a day for cutting loose rather than sober reflection…until he finds himself talking to a strange girl or, as she would have it, “spectral maiden,” only he can see or touch. Becca Finch is as surprised and confused as Worm, only remembering losing control of her car on an icy slope that past Christmas Eve. But being (or having been, anyway) a more outgoing sort, she sees their encounter as a sign that she’s got a mission. What follows, in a long conversational ramble through town and beyond, is a day at once ordinary yet rich in discovery and self-discovery—not just for Worm, but for Becca too, with a climactic twist that leaves both ready, or readier, for whatever may come next. Spinelli shines at setting a tongue-in-cheek tone for a tale with serious underpinnings, and as in Stargirl (2000), readers will be swept into the relationship that develops between this adolescent odd couple. Characters follow a White default.

Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30667-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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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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