FIGURING OUT FRANCES by Gina Willner-Pardo


Age Range: 9 - 12
Email this review


Abigail has been looking forward to having her best friend, Travis, attend her school, and is devastated when the fifth grade boy doesn’t want to be associated with her, a fourth grader, during school hours. Worse, he betrays her trust, joining a group of boys who tease her about her crazy grandmother. Abigail’s grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, has started calling her Frances, and Abigail believes that if she could “figure out Frances” and find out why her grandmother confuses them, then maybe “I could figure out myself a little bit too.” In addition to coping with Travis and unraveling the mystery of Frances, Abigail has to come to terms with her less-than-attuned friend Marlene, and try to win her hard-to-please mother’s understanding. Willner-Pardo (Jumping into Nothing, p. 637, etc.) effortlessly keeps the subplots in play, while Abigail’s incisive remarks—“I had the feeling that if Mom and I had gone to school together, we’d have had totally different friends”—have a ring of authenticity. Most readers will be gratified by the genuinely moving ending. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1999
ISBN: 0-395-91510-4
Page count: 134pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1999