A sweet mother-daughter tale.

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LOVE BOMB

Betty, just turning 15, lost her mother to cancer when she was a toddler. Now she thinks she’s in love for the first time. Can she still get advice from Mum?

When she sees pale-skinned, black-haired Toby for the first time, blonde, blue-eyed Betty has an immediate physical reaction. Toby might be the most handsome boy she’s ever seen. When Toby takes an interest in her, even calling her his girlfriend, Betty needs advice. On every birthday her dad has given her a letter that her mother wrote to her, but this year’s is the last letter. But in it, her mum writes that she has hidden more letters in the attic, and these specifically talk about her first experience of falling in love. It turns out that her mum had an experience quite similar to Betty’s when she was the same age. Meanwhile, as Betty gets to know Toby better, she begins to see another side to him. Betty will find love in this story, but from whom? Set in England (with a lightly Americanized text), the story shows little evidence of its racial and cultural diversity. McLachlan creates a lovely coming-of-age experience for Betty as she learns about love and also about the mother she cannot remember but whose love she also craves. The story drops clues about Toby’s less-than-stellar character that allow readers to discover his flaws before Betty does.

A sweet mother-daughter tale. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-06149-2

Page Count: 209

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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LOST IN THE RIVER OF GRASS

Thirteen-year-old Sarah’s new classmates at Glades Academy don’t welcome her—she’s there on scholarship, and her mother works in the school cafeteria. On a field trip to the Everglades, Sarah seizes the chance to get away by sneaking off on an airboat ride through the saw-grass marsh with the guide’s 15-year-old son, Andy, taking only her backpack, a camera and some mosquito spray. A stop at a remote fishing camp ends in disaster when the boat sinks, and they’re stranded, surrounded by alligators and snakes, with half a bottle of Gatorade and a can of SPAM. Andy knows what they’re up against, but Sarah refuses to believe that they must leave the tiny island to trudge the 10 miles back to land. Wildlife and vegetation are vividly described; Sarah’s fear is palpable in scenes of near-disaster, and readers will cheer when she and Andy make it safely out of the swamp after five days. However, the first-person narrative is uneven, marred by gaps that make it hard to fully visualize some situations, and there are too few transitions to support some rather sudden instances of closeness between Sarah and Andy. Rorby cleverly offers only subtle hints that Sarah is African-American and Andy is white until late in the story, adding depth to this survival story framed within the story of an outsider. (Adventure. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-5685-1

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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An emotionally moving portrayal of the effects grief has on a family.

A GIRL IN THREE PARTS

Eleven-and-a-half-year-old Allegra is divided by a family at odds with each other.

Allegra’s mum died when she was 3, but she doesn’t know what caused her death or why it made her family stop speaking to each other. She just knows that they each love her differently, and she feels split in three ways trying to maintain relationships with each of them. Allegra lives at Number 23 with her Hungarian Jewish grandmother, Matilde, who is haunted by memories of the war and who runs a strict household. With Matilde she is Allegra. Her father, Rick, takes her surfing, and they have a good time together. But for reasons she doesn’t understand, he lives in the flat above Matilde’s garage; with him she’s Al Pal. Next door, at Number 25, lives her passionate Catholic grandmother, Joy, to whom she is Ally. When Allegra helps a friend and things go awry, their family secrets must be confronted. Set in 1970s Australia at the cusp of a cultural revolution, this is both a story of self-discovery and one of family healing. Debut author Daniel’s strength lies in the creation of complex characters; Allegra in particular operates from a sheltered existence and makes decisions, judgments, and mistakes in an authentic—and, at times, painful—way. Most characters are white except Allegra’s best friend and her mother, who are Indigenous.

An emotionally moving portrayal of the effects grief has on a family. (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-5107-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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