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The most recent novel by Adler (Shadows On Little Reef Bay, Get Lost, Little Brother) is a heavy-handed story with too many messages. Fifteen-year-old Viki Hill has lived the last eight years of her life with her mother and missionary father in an isolated village in Guatemala. Finally, following an incident which her mother sees as disgraceful, Viki is sent to live with an aunt in the US, an opportunity she has longed for. Wanting only to be a typical American kid, she immerses herself in school and quickly makes friends--two of whom are brothers. Marc, the younger one, is her age and a star at almost everything he tries; Joel, the older one, is bright and loving, but has dyslexia and can't read. At first attracted to Marc, Viki gradually comes to see him as self-centered. By the end of the story, she realizes that Joel is the one she loves. However, before Joel feels comfortable ""stealing"" her from his brother, Viki learns she must return to Guatemala. Her parting with Joel is bittersweet and promise-filled. The reader will have difficulty identifying with Viki and her unusual upbringing, or finding much familiar in her ""typical"" American life: she and Marc discuss law and politics, she and Joel help handicapped kids. Nothing wrong there, but not much to attract today's readers. The romance is nice, although one wonders what Viki sees in Marc since the reader sees through him early on. Jealousy, romance, family problems, disabilities, diverse backgrounds, and the trials of friendship and acceptance all crammed into one overstuffed story.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1986
Publisher: Clarion/Houghton Mifflin