The author of Rachel Chance (1990) spins another likable melodrama about children with a precarious hold on their only home. For narrator Mary Jack, Father Matt is better than most in a long series of foster parents, though the kind Episcopal priest has a shrewish wife (Jill), and Mary Jack is stuck with most of the housework—as well as with caring for ``Jane,'' an abandoned waif who never speaks and bears terrible scars from abuse. To this uneasy mÇnage come Adam, 14, a taciturn rebel whose mother abandoned him, and Father Matt's sister Cecile, newly widowed after an auto accident that has also disabled one arm and left her aphasic. It's too much for Jill: as a stopgap, the three kids and Cecile are sent, under the nominal care of mean, indolent Gerry, to a riverside summer home Cecile has inherited, for a few weeks that extend into the whole summer. Gerry absconds with the cash; fearing they'll be split up and sent somewhere worse, the others muddle valiantly along until they end, predictably, by forming a viable new family. Cecile's recovery is uneven, but she gradually assumes a motherly role; Mary Jack learns to demand help and accept her own vulnerability; Adam proves loyal and resourceful; Jane warms to affection and finally reveals her real name. Meanwhile, a thoroughly nice high-school classmate of Cecile's turns out to be a neighbor, and a nearby camper provides some suspenseful menace. An old-fashioned fantasy, really: contrived, but genial, well-told, and engrossing. (Fiction. 10- 14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-395-59507-X

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992

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When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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The timeline overlaps the events of the companion novel, but fans of the first won’t feel déjà vu. There’s more of a sense...


One quarter of the “Gang of Five” from The Misfits (2001) tells his own story of coming out and overcoming bullies and prejudice through alphabetical entries in his “alphabiography.”

Joe Bunch aka JoDan aka Scorpio (among other names) works his way from October to March to fulfill his teacher Mr. Daly’s assignment to write about his life from A to Z, including “life lessons” at the end of each entry. Though things do go Joe’s way, the story is nothing but realistic. Howe has created a character that lives and breathes with all of the inconsistencies, fears and longings of your normal average seventh-grade homosexual. Joe still thinks “exchanging saliva” is excruciatingly gross, but he knows he wants to date boys. He thinks Colin is cute and fun to be with, but Joe just can’t “tone down” on command. His family is not surprised when he finally lets them in on his secret with the gentle assistance of his artistic Aunt Pam and his (sometimes overly) helpful best friend Addie.

The timeline overlaps the events of the companion novel, but fans of the first won’t feel déjà vu. There’s more of a sense of spending extra time with a favorite friend. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-689-83957-X

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Ginee Seo/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2005

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