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by Carolyn Mackler

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7636-2155-2
Publisher: Candlewick

Warmth and humor suffuse the story of Mara’s senior-year transformation from tense, rigid perfectionist to relaxed, centered graduate. Mara has perfect grades, perfect extracurriculars, and a perfectly planned-out future including a ticket to Yale. Then her one-year-younger niece, V (daughter of Mara’s much-older sister), comes to live with her and wreaks havoc. V wears a brazen tank top (braless) to school and immediately makes out with Mara’s jerky ex-boyfriend. Graffiti appears around school calling V “stonah babe” and “skanky ho.” Meanwhile, Mara is falling in love with the 22-year-old owner of the coffee shop where she works and dreaming at night about grilled cheese, which she hasn’t eaten since becoming a vegan. Sparring, not friends till the end, Mara learns from V how to enjoy herself and V learns from Mara that it’s okay to strive and care. In the last scene, newly independent Mara triumphantly throws her cell phone (parental umbilical cord) into Lake Ontario. Funny and optimistic. (Fiction. YA)