Valuable insight into a time when abortions were illegal and pregnant teenagers were hidden away instead of filmed for a...

IN TROUBLE

Teen pregnancy long before 16 and Pregnant.

It’s 1956, and Jamie’s best friend Elaine is “in trouble,” code for those teenage girls who begin wearing loose clothing and then suddenly disappear to live with a mysterious “aunt” for a while. Jamie is concerned for Elaine, but she also has problems of her own. Her father has just returned home after being jailed for his refusal to name names during the McCarthy hearings, and Jamie’s relationship with him is still fragile. She’s also hiding a secret equal to Elaine’s: While staying in New York City with her older cousin Lois, she was date raped by one of Lois’ friends and is too ashamed to tell anyone what happened. But when Jamie realizes that she’s skipped a period, she suddenly finds herself in just as much “trouble” as Elaine. Now she has to make a choice that Levine makes abundantly clear was much harder for teenage girls in the ’50s than it is today. Daring subject aside, the author breaks little new ground in this typical problem novel (a stand-alone continuation of 2005’s Catch a Tiger by the Toe). The dialogue-heavy prose, short length and always-timely topic will attract reluctant readers, and the familiarity of the form will carry them through.

Valuable insight into a time when abortions were illegal and pregnant teenagers were hidden away instead of filmed for a reality TV show.    (author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6558-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli.

DEAD WEDNESDAY

For two teenagers, a small town’s annual cautionary ritual becomes both a life- and a death-changing experience.

On the second Wednesday in June, every eighth grader in Amber Springs, Pennsylvania, gets a black shirt, the name and picture of a teen killed the previous year through reckless behavior—and the silent treatment from everyone in town. Like many of his classmates, shy, self-conscious Robbie “Worm” Tarnauer has been looking forward to Dead Wed as a day for cutting loose rather than sober reflection…until he finds himself talking to a strange girl or, as she would have it, “spectral maiden,” only he can see or touch. Becca Finch is as surprised and confused as Worm, only remembering losing control of her car on an icy slope that past Christmas Eve. But being (or having been, anyway) a more outgoing sort, she sees their encounter as a sign that she’s got a mission. What follows, in a long conversational ramble through town and beyond, is a day at once ordinary yet rich in discovery and self-discovery—not just for Worm, but for Becca too, with a climactic twist that leaves both ready, or readier, for whatever may come next. Spinelli shines at setting a tongue-in-cheek tone for a tale with serious underpinnings, and as in Stargirl (2000), readers will be swept into the relationship that develops between this adolescent odd couple. Characters follow a White default.

Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30667-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Stands out neither as a folk-tale retelling, a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust novel.

MAPPING THE BONES

A Holocaust tale with a thin “Hansel and Gretel” veneer from the author of The Devil’s Arithmetic (1988).

Chaim and Gittel, 14-year-old twins, live with their parents in the Lodz ghetto, forced from their comfortable country home by the Nazis. The siblings are close, sharing a sign-based twin language; Chaim stutters and communicates primarily with his sister. Though slowly starving, they make the best of things with their beloved parents, although it’s more difficult once they must share their tiny flat with an unpleasant interfaith couple and their Mischling (half-Jewish) children. When the family hears of their impending “wedding invitation”—the ghetto idiom for a forthcoming order for transport—they plan a dangerous escape. Their journey is difficult, and one by one, the adults vanish. Ultimately the children end up in a fictional child labor camp, making ammunition for the German war effort. Their story effectively evokes the dehumanizing nature of unremitting silence. Nevertheless, the dense, distancing narrative (told in a third-person contemporaneous narration focused through Chaim with interspersed snippets from Gittel’s several-decades-later perspective) has several consistency problems, mostly regarding the relative religiosity of this nominally secular family. One theme seems to be frustration with those who didn’t fight back against overwhelming odds, which makes for a confusing judgment on the suffering child protagonists.

Stands out neither as a folk-tale retelling, a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust novel. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-25778-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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