THE QUEEN OF EVERYTHING by Deb Caletti

THE QUEEN OF EVERYTHING

Age Range: 14 & up

KIRKUS REVIEW

Alternating between pithy humor and ominous foreboding, high-school junior Jordan MacKenzie’s voice describes her life, family, and friends in this gothic with an edge. The edge is from her own witty commentary on life on Parrish Island, an imaginary community located off the coast of Washington State in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The bringing together of sadness and foreboding with humor is reminiscent of Elvin in Chris Lynch’s Slot Machine (1995) although Jordan appears to be less intentionally working at being funny. It is simply her take on life: her values, her awareness of pretensions, oddities, and incongruencies. The characters leap to life (including the dogs), as Jordan details the daily events that inexorably lead first to tragic events, and ultimately to a rescue of a sort. Threading throughout is the awareness that horror is ahead. When it does arrive, it doesn’t quite seem as ghastly as expected. Most of the plot is driven by actions of the adults in the story, but when Jordan chooses to act, she’s obviously learned a trick or two about manipulation and getting what you want. She’s chosen to live with her father as the more normal one of her parents, but he becomes obsessed with a married woman and Jordan’s life spirals out of control. While not the focus, her own first miserable experiences with sex and the death of a grandparent are encompassed in this somewhat long, but nonetheless fast-paced debut. Humor gets little respect, but Caletti expertly succeeds in capturing the way a smart teen can grasp and skewer her world and what passes for everyday normal in a wry tone that never fails to recognize the seriousness of the situation. Cosmic comedy. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7434-3684-9
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2002




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