TAF by Annie Callan


Age Range: 14 & up
Email this review


Taf is on the run from her hardscrabble existence with her family in Idaho in this uneven account of a young girl’s adolescence in the post-WWI West. Searching for her father in the mountains of Oregon, Taf falls in love with PB, PickingBones, a half-Chinese, half–Nez Perce beader for the Pendleton Company. Various characters she meets, especially the sheriff’s deputy Bob, include her in their hearts desires for the future. Taf’s guilt over her part in what she assumes is the death of her young brother colors her thoughts, and her actions often seem illogical and random. In Taf’s journey from 13 to 17, she not only witnesses others’ sexuality, but also finds her own first experience both sublime and haunting. The language lifts and soars, then hardens into a plodding cliché. There is probably some exotic and intriguing history included in the description of the tunnels beneath the town of Pendleton, the swimming pool on the top floor of the hotel, cowgirl Vera McGinniss, and early advocates of Prohibition’s tactics, but the occasional clinker, such as referring to pet hamster cages (introduced in the 1930s), calls it all into question. A poem at the beginning about selkies hints at the author’s intentions of making us see Taf as both child and woman, stranger and friend, loving and self-absorbed. Unfortunately, the dualities end up being confusing rather than absorbing and the abrupt ending is oddly unsatisfying. An intriguing first effort that ultimately disappoints. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8126-4933-8
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2001


ChildrenI'LL BE WATCHING by Pamela Porter
by Pamela Porter