In a witty, touching first novel, 15-year-old Justine Trainor's borderline nerd image is pushed to the limit when Justine spends time with new neighbor Mike Lombardo, an eighth grader who shares her passion for avant-garde movies. Justine's mom encourages her friendship with Mike's gorgeous airhead sister Heather, but as Mike points out, ``no one I could like could possibly like my sister. Lombardo's Law.'' Still, Justine agrees to a disastrous double date with Heather and her boyfriend and falls into a boring relationship with a boy at school, just to appear ``normal.'' When the two screen buffs decide to produce a video spoofing 2001: A Space Odyssey, the local cable station airs it, their budding talents are recognized, and they're forced to acknowledge their attraction to each other. Deft characterization (of even minor players like Mike's agoraphobic mother and Justine's oversolicitous parents) and a breezy style recalling Brock Cole's Celine contribute to a well-crafted story in a voice that's true to the emotional confusion of adolescence while maintaining a light touch; literary and cinematic references add interest without detracting from the central theme of first love. All will cheer when Mike proclaims, after a rotten second-floor railing lands him on the ground with Justine praying he hasn't been killed, ``A fall from a balcony deserves a kiss...Lombardo's law.'' (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-395-65969-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1993

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It’s 1949, and 13-year-old Francine Green lives in “the land of ‘Sit down, Francine’ and ‘Be quiet, Francine’ ” at All Saints School for Girls in Los Angeles. When she meets Sophie Bowman and her father, she’s encouraged to think about issues in the news: the atomic bomb, peace, communism and blacklisting. This is not a story about the McCarthy era so much as one about how one girl—who has been trained to be quiet and obedient by her school, family, church and culture—learns to speak up for herself. Cushman offers a fine sense of the times with such cultural references as President Truman, Hopalong Cassidy, Montgomery Clift, Lucky Strike, “duck and cover” and the Iron Curtain. The dialogue is sharp, carrying a good part of this story of friends and foes, guilt and courage—a story that ought to send readers off to find out more about McCarthy, his witch-hunt and the First Amendment. Though not a happily-ever-after tale, it dramatizes how one person can stand up to unfairness, be it in front of Senate hearings or in the classroom. (author’s note) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-50455-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. His aunt and friends want him to avenge the recent murder of his cousin, but Eddie just wants to find a way out. Everything he tries turns soura stint doing yard work ends when his boss's truck is stolen on Eddie's watchand life is a daily battle for survival. This unrelenting portrait is unsparing in squalid details: The glue sniffers, gangs, bums, casual knifings, filth, and stench are in the forefront of a life without much hope``Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant, unemployable people.'' Soto plays the tale straightthe only sign of a ``happy'' ending is in Eddie's joining the Navy. The result is a sort of Fresno Salaam Bombay without the pockets of humanity that gave the original its charm. A valuable tale, it's one that makes no concessions. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201333-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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