Readers will fall in love with Rinnie; Baskin has crafted a beautiful story about the complexities of family, self-respect...

PAINT ME A MONSTER

Baskin’s first novel spans 13 years in the life of an artistic girl torn between perfection and loving herself as she is.

Three-year-old Margo renames herself Rinnie after Rin Tin Tin, “the smartest, fastest, strongest dog in the world.” Rinnie’s family appears to be the perfect wealthy nuclear family of the 1950s, complete with housekeeper and cook, but life in the Gardener home—particularly Rinnie’s—is far from idyllic. Her younger brother is coddled and her older sister held up as an example, while Rinnie, the “monster,” struggles for their mother’s love and approval. After her parents divorce, her brother moves in with Dad, leaving Rinnie and her sister to stay behind to endure Mom’s abuse, often aimed at Rinnie. As Rinnie loses control, she restricts her food intake and keeps track of every bite, convincingly chronicled in her obsessive, present-tense narration. If she can be perfect, she’ll reclaim her parents’ love. The school counselor encourages 16-year-old Rinnie to trust herself to save herself, and with his help, Rinnie paints the monsters of her past to begin the journey toward a future of hope, trust and freedom. Rinnie’s voice is honest and unflinching, gradually maturing from a 3-year-old’s singsong to that of a well-spoken, intelligent teenager.

Readers will fall in love with Rinnie; Baskin has crafted a beautiful story about the complexities of family, self-respect and human connection. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62324-018-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scarlet Voyage/Enslow

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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A tear-jerker that fails to connect despite desperate effort.

THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH

Tragedy hovers over a blossoming romance.

Brazilian-American Sebastian “Bash” Alvaréz is just trying to get by when he meets the nerdy, white Birdie Paxton. The two spark up some romantic fire, but disaster quickly strikes. Late one night, Bash and his ne’er-do-well pal “Wild” Kyle are driving erratically (Kyle is at the wheel) and slam right into Birdie’s baby brother, Benny. The boys flee the scene, while Benny slips into a coma and the town begins to hunt for the perpetrators of the hit-and-run. Bash keeps his secret from Birdie as they grow closer, and readers will roll their eyes at the excessive misery. The author gives Bash a dying mother to balance out the equation, but the choice overloads the devastation factor. With everything emotional and awful and crazy and turned up to 11, nothing really sticks out. The two moping, guilt-ridden protagonists are drawn well enough—they alternate narration—but seem to be stuck in a narrative hell bent on getting readers to cry. Secondary characters are poorly sketched, given no interior life, and merely activated to interact with Birdie and Bash. The novel’s end is disproportionately sunny and hopeful, giving readers tonal whiplash. A last-minute Hail Mary act gets the teens out of the narrative corner, but it feels spectacularly tacked-on.

A tear-jerker that fails to connect despite desperate effort. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-11622-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

Carrick (Melanie, 1996, etc.) sensitively explores the pain of a parent’s death through the eyes, feelings, and voice of a nine-year-old boy whose world turns upside down when his father becomes terminally ill with cancer. Through a fictional reminiscence, the story explores many of the issues common to children whose parents are ill—loss of control, changes in physical appearance and mental ability, upsets in daily routine, experiences of guilt and anger, the reaction of friends, and, most of all, a fear of the unknown. Although the book suffers from a pat ending and the black-and-white sketches emphasize the bleakness of the topic, this title is a notch above pure bibliotherapy and will fill a special niche for children struggling to deal with the trauma of parental sickness and death. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-84151-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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