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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Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. His aunt and friends want him to avenge the recent murder of his cousin, but Eddie just wants to find a way out. Everything he tries turns soura stint doing yard work ends when his boss's truck is stolen on Eddie's watchand life is a daily battle for survival. This unrelenting portrait is unsparing in squalid details: The glue sniffers, gangs, bums, casual knifings, filth, and stench are in the forefront of a life without much hope``Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant, unemployable people.'' Soto plays the tale straightthe only sign of a ``happy'' ending is in Eddie's joining the Navy. The result is a sort of Fresno Salaam Bombay without the pockets of humanity that gave the original its charm. A valuable tale, it's one that makes no concessions. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201333-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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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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