THE BRIGHTEST LIGHT

In small-town West Virginia, 16-year-old Kitty Lee is involved in a soap-opera's worth of complications while babysitting the children of attractive new mill-owner Mr. Curtis and his reclusive alcoholic wife. Curtis latches onto Kitty Lee when he sees her resourcefulness in dealing with his kids; when his regard ripens into advances, Kitty Lee is embarrassed but not wholly unresponsive. He's married, though, so eventually she's firm about leaving—a move made easier because she's discovered that old friend Cody's regard is more than platonic. Meanwhile, Kitty Lee worries about her friend Dottie, who's falling in love with an older man whom she seems hesitant to introduce; and she begins to wonder about her own mother, who died 14 years ago in an accident: Was she, too, an alcoholic? The parallels—and nonparallels—here seem contrived here, while none of the characters are drawn in much depth; Kitty Lee, especially, seems too good to be true, and her feelings for Mr. Curtis cause her remarkably little distress. Still, the lively events hold attention, while the outcomes of the several subplots are wholesome and not oversimplistic. (Fiction. 11-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-590-45347-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1992

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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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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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