LIFE BELTS by Jane Hosie-Bounar

LIFE BELTS

Age Range: 12 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 With luminous clarity, the new Delacorte Prize winner depicts, in alternating chapters, a trio of young people on Long Island's north shore during their pivotal 14th summer. Nita, whose vibrant mother is dying, is on the edge of despair, testing fate and her own limits by swimming or sailing too far out, trying Molly's friendship with an abrasiveness that doesn't quite hide her vulnerability. Molly (the only one to narrate her chapters in the first person) is more repressed, like her mother, who--in contrast to Nita's--is so reserved that her cryptic explanations about sex leave her daughter mystified; and yet, in a touchingly funny scene, the two manage to laugh about their inhibitions. Meanwhile, classmate Eddie Barnicle--butt of thoughtless cruelty because of a webbed hand and a mother who treasures it as God-given--is an unwilling bystander while a neighbor's five-year-old drowns. He's in a stolen boat with the rowdy Carey boys, who--afraid they'll be caught drinking beer and clamming illegally--refuse to investigate the child's sudden disappearance from shore; in his distress, Eddie later tries to cut away his hated webs, thus declaring his independence. Plot is secondary here; the book shines for its vividly realized portraits of young people whose complementary lives touch, and who ultimately, in a delicately understated final scene, sustain each other. A beautifully crafted debut that's sure to appeal. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-385-31074-9
Page count: 120pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1993