A STAR FOR THE LATECOMER by Bonnie & Paul Zindel Zindel


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Unpromising at first glance, but then an agreeable surprise on several counts. First, this is about a 16-year-old girl whose mother is dying of cancer, and the two are overly attached to one another and express those feelings; but if some of the lines are maudlin the tone of the story isn't, because the authors know the difference between the girl's viewpoint and their own and don't force readers to identity with her. Second, the mother is one of those who wants her daughter to fulfill her own longings: she's had Brooke dancing since age three, sends her to auditions and a special school, and Brooke tries desperately for her mother's sake to get that one break that will start her to stardom before her mother dies. Yet, though the mother is grossly wrong (when she does die, Brooke feels freed from a career she never wanted), she is also warm and attractive, not one of those monster middle-class mothers who inhabit the suburbs of much juvenile fiction. A third surprise is that though Paul Zindel is co-author (with his wife Bonnie), this is played straight, without his usual bizarre social-satiric enlargements. Still, this being Zindel, the performing-child scenes are just a little sharper, Brooke's typical teenage fantasies just a little more convincingly hers, and her relationship with her mother just a little less black-or-white than in other stories of child-star trials or bereavement.

Pub Date: March 19th, 1980
Publisher: Harper & Row