ROOSTER by Beth Nixon Weaver


Age Range: 12 - 15
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Despite relying on some clichéd events and characters, Weaver shows strong storytelling ability in her first novel, a coming-of-age story set in the late 1960s. Fifteen-year-old Kady Palmer lives in a dilapidated cottage in a central-Florida orange grove with her parents, three siblings, and a demented grandmother. Two days a week, this poor family employs Jewel, a maid who gives Kady advice and the love her mother withholds. Next door live 17-year-old Tony, a responsible, articulate Cuban-American; his younger brother Rooster, who was brain-damaged at birth; and their alcoholic father. Rooster adores Kady, but she often snaps at him, wishing she had a normal life and fewer responsibilities. When Jon, a wealthy schoolmate, falls for Kady, she accepts his gifts of pretty dresses and money so she doesn’t have to baby-sit after school. Instead, they spend time getting high with a group of spoiled rich kids at a nearby spring. One day Rooster finds them, eats some of their marijuana brownies, and—in a scene straight from propaganda movies about pot—tries to fly out of a tree. When he ends up in a coma, Jon wants to keep the brownies a secret. Kady finally recognizes his shallowness and starts to appreciate the strengths of her family and Tony. Weaver creates suspense, a strong sense of place, and a believable protagonist in narrator Kady. But too many characters are stereotyped—the warmhearted maid, the self-centered rich kids—while others, like her siblings, remain shadowy in this promising but uneven debut. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-58837-001-1
Page count: 308pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2001