ARENA BEACH by Donna Staples


Age Range: 12 & up
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 The small California coastal town of Arena Beach represents security and comfort to Terra Bliss, 17, who hopes to go on living there, preferably as a mechanic--work she loves. But fate and the author have other plans, quietly forcing on Terra a list of circumstances and decisions that would slay a lesser heroine- -and sink most books. The father she's never met abruptly appears, seeking friendship with her. Her ethereal, artistic mother grows spacier by the day. Her employer commits suicide. She loses her surfer boyfriend to another girl (and the ultimate wave), faces an earthquake, rescues a child, and watches as his leg is amputated and as his mother's body is sawed in half. Her own mother joins the Peace Corps, and Terra decides to become a pastry chef. If most of this didn't have such an authentic ring, it would be fairly flaky stuff, and some of the plot elements do jar an otherwise contemplative piece. Still, the foundation is sturdy: Arena Beach and its locals are believable, though most characters exhibit a surprising capacity for self-assessment. And while glossily packaged, Terra's final wisdom follow's from her hastily broadened range of experience. (Fiction 12+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-395-65366-5
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993