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THE SPELL BOOK OF LISTEN TAYLOR by Jaclyn Moriarty

THE SPELL BOOK OF LISTEN TAYLOR

By Jaclyn Moriarty

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-439-84678-3
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Adult crossover that doesn’t. This revised version of an Australian adult novel displays Moriarty’s engagingly quirky writing, but unlike her previous U.S. publications (The Year of Secret Assignments, 2004; The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, 2006), this one lacks teen appeal. The “Zing Family Secret” necessitates weekly meetings in the garden shed, and the story follows several of the Zings and their associates through the year when the secret (mildly anticlimactic after the immense build-up) finally comes out. Seven-year-old Cassie and 12-year-old Listen are the only non-adult characters in an ensemble cast, and while Listen’s (lonely and unpleasant) experiences in seventh grade do provide the catalyst for many plot developments, she is overshadowed by the adults. Most of the novel concerns secrets and infidelity; three separate affairs plus one imagined and their repercussions occupy center stage, and Moriarty skillfully examines desire, longing and forgiveness. Chick-lit–reading older teens might be willing to give this a try, but the focus on marriage and parenthood make it more likely to appeal to their mothers. (Fiction. YA)