One turbulent day in the life of 14-year-old Suzanne slowly reveals her past. Living with her strange, widowed mother in a small European village, which is beset with emotional conflict, she contrives to stir things up even further. Readers will struggle to discover the reasons for all of the tension in the village, aside from simple personality conflicts. It seems that Suzanne’s veterinarian father was the victim of an accidental shooting by the local squire. Her mother has become something of a hermit, but they have maintained a warm relationship with Helen, a midwife who delivered Suzanne and who owns a kennel. The townspeople want to get rid of Helen’s barking dogs, and Suzanne’s mother suddenly decides to sign the petition, further angering the girl. Suzanne pursues a young puppeteer who visits the village during its annual summer festival, and under his influence, she decides to release the dogs. When the puppeteer catches them, Suzanne returns to her mother and hopes their wounds will be healed. Many young readers will have difficulty understanding the story, full of slow-moving descriptive passages and little action. The turmoil of the village reflects Suzanne’s adolescent turmoil, her conflicts with her mother, and her lingering pain over her father’s death. More literary-minded readers may, with some effort, find a story of adolescent angst that will satisfy them, but it may not be worth the energy. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-886910-48-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000

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The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a...


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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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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