Kirkus Reviews QR Code
FACE VALUE by Catherine Johnson


by Catherine Johnson

Pub Date: May 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-8027-8920-X
Publisher: Walker

A brooding, unsuccessful attempt to confront the dark world of professional modeling. Lauren, 15, is noticed at an art gallery and handed a business card that leads to modeling opportunities. Her guardian, 32-year-old Nessa, cringes at the idea because Lauren’s late mother Paula got in trouble doing the same thing. Chapters of “Lauren Now” alternate with chapters of “Nessa Then,” as teenage Nessa—lonely and glum—makes friends with glamorous Paula, a teen with model potential stuck prostituting for a gangster. The duel narrative is well organized. However, the piece overall seems unsure of its genre, changing awkwardly from passable realism into mediocre suspense as Nessa’s mother is murdered (in the past) and the gangster catches up with Lauren and Nessa (in the present). One wholly unconvincing passage features eight-month-old Lauren as narrator. More about one dangerous gangster than the world of modeling; useful for its interracial characters, who are sadly underrepresented in young adult literature. (Fiction. YA)