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by Doris Orgel

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: July 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-670-82754-1
Publisher: Viking

 Suddenly finding herself in a new school at midyear because of her dad's transfer, Laura's hopes of making friends are thwarted by her new fifth grade's competing cliques. She's just getting to know nice Janet when she hurts Janet's feelings by courting the ``Supes,'' a rich, talented, snobbish-seeming trio: Beth has famous parents, Liz dances, and Vero ``used to swim with dolphins.'' When a second club forms around Janet, Laura finds herself excluded from both. Two events cause all the girls to reassess what's going on: a sensible teacher requires Janet and Beth to list their real similarities and differences; Vero's mother and stepfather, in all innocence, throw her a surprise swimming party--not realizing that a traumatic boating accident with Jencks, the perpetual-adolescent father with whom Vero lived until a few months ago, has left her terrified of her favorite sport. Orgel, whose best-known book is The Devil in Vienna (1978), raises this above formula with her carefully selected incidents and perceptive characterizations. The alternated narrations of Laura, Janet, and Vero reveal that there are no villains here, just normal children--some with loving families and others who have effectively been neglected, some with new situations to contend with but all both fallible and trying to do the best they can. Easily read, but not simplistic; a satisfying, carefully crafted story. (Fiction. 8-12)