MY OWN WORST ENEMY by Carol Sonenklar


Age Range: 11 - 14
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A nonconformist teenager changes her style to fit into the Barbie-wannabe clique at a new school. Though Eve does it to please her parents, readers will wonder why she bothers; her mother, a traveling saleswoman, is seldom home, and thanks to a slovenly older brother and a radically clueless, unemployed father, she lives in a filthy shambles of unfinished home improvement projects. Interrupting her narrative for long rants (“I think it’s totally unfair that girls have to worry so much about how they look”) that become the basis of a teen column in the local paper, Eve recounts her efforts to cultivate class queen Lisle while keeping her embarrassing home life secret; the plotline is never more than a pretext, however, for introducing adult and young adult women trying on—comfortably for the most part—conventional gender roles and expectations. Most of the characters remain opaque; Sonenklar sends conflicting signals about whether Eve’s mother is deliberately staying away or not, and gives readers no help understanding why her father would refuse to inquire about a promising job opportunity. In the end, Lisle invites herself over, and Eve’s subsequent banishment from the fashion plate circle gives her a chance to wear old clothes and gain instant acceptance from arty social outsiders in her class. Lacking in the humor and imagination of Bug Boy (1997) and Bug Girl (1998), this is likely to leave readers more puzzled by its ambiguities than intrigued by issues it raises. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 15th, 1999
ISBN: 0-8234-1456-6
Page count: 149pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1999