EXTREME ELVIN

PLB 0-06-028210-X Pudgy, frantic Elvin, introduced in Slot Machine (1995), takes a hilarious, roller-coaster plunge into Young Adulthood. Going, perhaps, where no YA author has gone before, Lynch afflicts his hero with hemorrhoids (“ ‘It shows?’ ‘No, you could have a squirrel down your pants making you walk that way’ “), then heaps on the stress by having him lock eyes with friendly, Junoesque Barbara and hold hands with Sally, a dazzler who later, as a practical joke, announces that she has scabies. The ensuing rumors that she gave him an STD gives him a social leg up, plus a party invitation from Darth, a smooth, menacing teen Svengali. Supported by a cast of familiar types, led by his sensitive but not entirely earnest mother, Elvin struggles desperately to keep his balance in the rush of events—and fails. His exaggerated emotional highs and lows drive Barbara away (not forever, one hopes) and turn the party into a complete personal disaster. Lynch opts to end on a downswing, with Elvin miserably hiding out in the garage licking his wounds, but readers will be breathless—not only from laughter and the story’s headlong pace, but from the author’s audacity in his choice of topics for comic inquiry. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: March 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-028040-9

Page Count: 230

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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BURIED ONIONS

Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. His aunt and friends want him to avenge the recent murder of his cousin, but Eddie just wants to find a way out. Everything he tries turns soura stint doing yard work ends when his boss's truck is stolen on Eddie's watchand life is a daily battle for survival. This unrelenting portrait is unsparing in squalid details: The glue sniffers, gangs, bums, casual knifings, filth, and stench are in the forefront of a life without much hope``Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant, unemployable people.'' Soto plays the tale straightthe only sign of a ``happy'' ending is in Eddie's joining the Navy. The result is a sort of Fresno Salaam Bombay without the pockets of humanity that gave the original its charm. A valuable tale, it's one that makes no concessions. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201333-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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