UP ON CLOUD NINE by Anne Fine
Kirkus Star

UP ON CLOUD NINE

Age Range: 11 - 13
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KIRKUS REVIEW

England’s Children’s Laureate (Bad Dreams, 2000, etc.) again exercises her unsurpassed gift for memorable, complex character studies. Stolly Oliver lies in a coma, having taken a plunge from an upper story window. At his bedside sit not his often-absent parents (though they’re on their way), but Ian Paramour and his smart, loving, adoptive parents, all three of whom have spent so much time caring for Stolly over the years that he’s as much a member of their family as his own. More than half convinced that Stolly jumped, Ian works out his anger by reflecting on their life together: his mix of fearlessness and stark vulnerability; the ghastly, wildly inventive horror stories Stolly could make up at the drop of a hat; the left turns his logic often took; his refusal to hide feelings, or to stop challenging authority; his array of little foibles—as Ian puts it, his teachers “all said he had a great future ahead of him, if he could stay alive and learn to tie his laces.” With brilliant use of the telling phrase or between-the-lines insight, often delivered with masterful, side-splitting comic timing, Fine brings not just Stolly but every character here to life, and gives them all redeeming qualities—even Stolly’s jet-set, fashion-designer mother, though she comes in for lengthy, merciless lampooning. By the time Stolly wakes up, little the worse for wear (beyond a few broken bones), the author has brought readers so close to him and to those who love him that the question of whether he fell by accident or not has become, not irrelevant, but unimportant. It’s a triumphant portrait of a young person marching to a beat all his own—but not marching alone. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: June 11th, 2002
ISBN: 0-385-73009-8
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2002




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