The spunky ten-year-old heroine of Starting School with an Enemy (1998) is back, and she’s welcome.
Sarah starts off by having her mom whack off most of her hair, as she has managed to get a great deal of bubble gum in
it. She’s adjusting to life in Maryland (after moving there from Maine), where her mom works for the government and her dad
is a carpenter. Sarah makes two friends at her new school: Christina, from El Salvador, and Olivia, from Trinidad. The girls
discover things together and things apart, most notably soccer (together) and basketball (just Sarah). What Sarah doesn’t realize
is that the team she has won a place on thinks she’s Sam, a boy, because of her cropped hair. When Olivia, after typical pre-
adolescent hemmings and hawings, admits to having an artificial leg, her friends learn how to react and when to help—and not.
A subplot involving Sarah’s brother's endearing forays into dating is nicely handled, and Christina serves a wickedly funny
comeuppance to a teacher who refuses to acknowledge the difference between El Salvador and Mexico. A lighthearted treatment
of kids' issues that manages not to sugarcoat. (Fiction. 10-12)