Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE SECRET LIFE OF AMANDA K. WOODS by Ann Cameron

THE SECRET LIFE OF AMANDA K. WOODS

By Ann Cameron

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: April 21st, 1998
ISBN: 0-374-36702-7
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Amanda K. Woods, 12, is a girl to like’she just doesn’t know it yet. She’s quirky, serious, impulsive, imaginative, perceptive, smart, and now, sharp, thanks to the addition of the K that stands like a sword flashing confidently in the middle of her name. In an opening scene, Amanda says good-bye to Lyle Leveridge, former neighbor and friend who leaves behind, at her suggestion, the legacy of his right hand, which she “exchanges” with her own in a tingling, did-it-really-happen episode. That hand seems to give her special powers when it comes to baking muffins to her mother’s specifications, writing letters to a French pen pal, seeking the advice of a yogi, and more, in Rome, Wisconsin, circa 1950. Casting aside her mother’s meticulous criterion, older sister Margaret’s Dale Carnegie—inspired thoughts, and the dubious punditry of women’s magazines, Amanda learns to see through her own eyes, speak “her own real thoughts.” Cameron (More Stories Huey Tells, 1997, etc.) avoids grand revelations in favor of singular insights that affirm girlhood without self-consciousness. As Amanda moves from alone to alive, she becomes strong, but not impossibly so, realizing that her special powers are those inside her, not borrowed from the Lone Ranger or a boy’s hand. Amanda is the story, and she’s as funny as she is wise. (Fiction. 10-12)