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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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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Flat secondary characterizations and humdrum dialogue won’t keep teens from relishing this histrionic tale of love, death...

THE EDGE OF FALLING

Wealthy high school junior Mcalister “Caggie” Caulfield seeks relief from grief over her younger sister’s death by entering into a dangerous relationship with a mysterious boy.

After her little sister drowns in the pool at her family’s beach house in the Hamptons, Caggie wants to die too, to the point that she contemplates jumping off the roof at a friend’s party in Manhattan. A schoolmate named Kristen saves her at the last minute but nearly falls herself. Caggie actually ends up pulling Kristen back and is credited as a hero, which only makes her feel worse. In her grief, Caggie spurns the attentions of her best friend and devoted boyfriend, but she finds a kindred spirit in Astor, a tall, dark and damaged new boy at school who recently lost his mother to cancer. But what Caggie comes to realize about her relationship with Astor is that “[d]arkness stacked on darkness just makes it that much harder to find the light.” After another nearly fatal disaster with Astor at the beach house, Caggie is forced to confront the falsehoods she has told her family and friends and let go of her guilt over her sister’s death. Though Caggie makes a point of telling readers that her paternal grandfather called people like her “phony,” almost nothing is made of the connection to Catcher in the Rye, and it serves merely to make Caggie’s tale suffer by comparison.

Flat secondary characterizations and humdrum dialogue won’t keep teens from relishing this histrionic tale of love, death and lies. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3316-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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