LETTERS IN THE ATTIC by Bonnie Shimko

LETTERS IN THE ATTIC

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Winning debut describes a young girl coming of age during the 1960s.

Twelve-year-old Lizzy McMann and her mother get a real kick in the head when Veronica’s husband Manny announces that he’s leaving them for a hatcheck girl. To add insult to injury, Manny tells the desk clerk at the Phoenix hotel the McManns have been living in that their room will be vacated the next day, so Lizzy and Veronica must find a new home as well as a new breadwinner. With nowhere else to turn, they move in with Veronica’s parents in upstate New York. There, in her mother’s childhood home, Lizzie discovers a cache of old letters that makes one thing clear: Manny was not her father. While piecing together the mystery of her origins, she manages to settle fairly well into her new surroundings, making friends with Eva Singer, a local physician’s daughter who soon becomes her closest confidante . . . in most things. For, in addition to the usual adolescent traumas of acne and menstruation, Lizzy seems to have suffered the indignity of falling in love with Eva. Is this just another spasm of growing pains, or a glimmer of some new light on her life’s horizon? Whatever the case may be, it is not Lizzy’s only concern. Her mother appears to be on the verge of breaking up with a charming new boyfriend—to go back to Manny! If your own mother can’t manage her life, what hope is there for you? That is how it looks to the teenaged Lizzy, who has yet to learn that most adults spend their lives repeating the mistakes they began as children. “If she were a dog, her ears would be down and her tail would be tucked between her legs,” comments the narrator of this amusing tale notable for its sharp and quick-witted tone.

Brisk, fun, and good-natured.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-89733-511-2
Page count: 227pp
Publisher: Academy Chicago
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2002