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BEST FOOT FORWARD by Joan Bauer

BEST FOOT FORWARD

By Joan Bauer

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: June 2nd, 2005
ISBN: 0-399-23474-8
Publisher: Putnam

Fresh from her road trip with Mrs. Gladstone, the indomitable shoe store matriarch, teenage shoe saleswoman phenom Jenna finds herself applying the lessons she’s learned as the child of an alcoholic father to the challenges of mentoring a young thug Mrs. Gladstone takes on after catching him shoplifting. Adding further difficulty to this seemingly impossible project is Jenna’s investigation into the changes being made to the time-honored way of doing business at Gladstone’s after its merger with a discount shoe chain managed by Mrs. Gladstone’s no-good son Elden. As in its predecessor, Rules of the Road (1998), the highlights of this effort are Jenna’s relationship with Mrs. Gladstone and her messianic approach to selling shoes. Less successful are Jenna’s visits to Al-Anon and her working through the Twelve Steps, which feel shoehorned into the plot. Readers will cheer when Mrs. Gladstone stands up to Elden after Jenna discovers that Gladstone’s proudest product has been shipped overseas to a Thai sweatshop, and when Jenna unbends enough to begin dating a doughnut heir, but in the end, this offering just doesn’t measure up to Bauer’s best. (Fiction. 12+)