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IMITATE THE TIGER

In Cheripko's first novel, a high school senior stubbornly refuses to acknowledge that he's an alcoholic. All the signs are there: Christopher Serbo's grades are plunging, his girlfriend has called it quits, and home life with his aunt is a series of battles and deceptions. He's constantly angry and depressed, feeling out of control and unable to change. Only on the football field does Christopher find relief, and even there, as his team marches through its first undefeated season, the new coach presses him relentlessly. Christopher describes his episodes of drunkenness with brutal precision, becoming an embarrassing, pathetic figure. When his drinking becomes an open secret, his coach and a concerned teacher work out a deal that allows Christopher to finish the season and report immediately to a full-time rehabilitation program. Cheripko gives readers a glimpse of the new school's tough love approach that enables Christopher to admit that he has a problem, embark on a 12-step program, and realize that he does have the courage to help himself. If the plotting is a bit shaky—Christopher heals from a vicious beating with miraculous speed, and a deathbed scene with Aunt Catherine melodramatically ties up a loose end—Christopher's behavior, and the reasons for it, are laid out clearly enough, and the point that rules unjustly bend sometimes for a successful athlete is well taken. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-56397-514-9

Page Count: 221

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a...

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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BRONX MASQUERADE

At the end of the term, a new student who is black and Vietnamese finds a morsel of hope that she too will find a place in...

This is almost like a play for 18 voices, as Grimes (Stepping Out with Grandma Mac, not reviewed, etc.) moves her narration among a group of high school students in the Bronx.

The English teacher, Mr. Ward, accepts a set of poems from Wesley, his response to a month of reading poetry from the Harlem Renaissance. Soon there’s an open-mike poetry reading, sponsored by Mr. Ward, every month, and then later, every week. The chapters in the students’ voices alternate with the poems read by that student, defiant, shy, terrified. All of them, black, Latino, white, male, and female, talk about the unease and alienation endemic to their ages, and they do it in fresh and appealing voices. Among them: Janelle, who is tired of being called fat; Leslie, who finds friendship in another who has lost her mom; Diondra, who hides her art from her father; Tyrone, who has faith in words and in his “moms”; Devon, whose love for books and jazz gets jeers. Beyond those capsules are rich and complex teens, and their tentative reaching out to each other increases as through the poems they also find more of themselves. Steve writes: “But hey! Joy / is not a crime, though / some people / make it seem so.”

At the end of the term, a new student who is black and Vietnamese finds a morsel of hope that she too will find a place in the poetry. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2569-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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