Though her parents deplore Ruth's ``bohemian'' lifestyle, stage-struck Patty dearly loves her glamorous actress aunt; the two are true friends and confidantes. Then Ruth arrives at Patty's home in Scarsdale with a devastating problem: the complications of diabetes may require amputation of a leg. More than half the book involves the operations, disappointments, and family trauma as Ruth loses one and then the other leg; meanwhile, her husband brutally announces by phone from L.A. that he's left Ruth for her best friend, and Patty plays a minor role in a high-school production of Our Town. Later, Ruth begins her rehabilitation, and Patty gets to play Juliet and wonders whether she's really cut out to be an actress. Much of the emotional action here turns on the family dynamics: Mom obediently gave up a career as a pianist to become a stockbroker; Ruth is a former rebel who denigrates her own success (just soaps and ads); and now doctor Dad opposes Patty's ambition. The parallels are worth exploring; unfortunately, Rosofsky spends too much time on realistic but repetitious dialogue and explanation of Ruth's adult problems, depicts Patty's parents as almost one-dimensionally narrow-minded and authoritarian, skimps on Patty's relationship with friend Helen, whose betrayal is crucial to her theme, and—near the end— thrusts a new career goal (writing) on Patty without really motivating it. There's much of value here, but it hasn't been developed to good advantage. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 15, 1991

ISBN: 0-06-025087-9

Page Count: 215

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1991

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Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.


A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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