Abbie Thompson is having a rough year—her professor father has left Abbie’s mother for a younger woman, her mother is depressed, and her little brother is angry all the time. To top it all off, Abbie is being punished for one of the stupidest things she’s ever done in all of her 17 years. After following her father to his girlfriend’s house and seeing them kiss, Abbie angrily threw rocks through the girlfriend’s window, smashing the glass and getting herself arrested. The judge assigns Abbie, a conscientious and usually law-abiding girl, to a volunteer program that matches up teenagers with elderly women to keep them company, help them run errands, and generally keep an eye on the older women. Perhaps to remind Abbie that this is meant to be punishment, Abbie is assigned to a particularly cantankerous, demanding old woman, Edna Merkel, who makes Abbie’s life miserable with her demands and unpredictable moods. When Mrs. Merkel becomes involved in a group that sets out to thwart con men who target senior citizens, she puts herself and her young companion in danger. While the story is fast-paced and involving, many of the characterizations are weak and one-dimensional. Abbie is too much of a pushover, letting herself be manipulated by Mrs. Merkel to an unrealistic extent. The father is so insensitive and so uncaring about his children that it strains credulity; and Mrs. Merkel is so nasty, rude, and selfish that it’s hard to believe anyone would put up with her behavior for more than a few days. A readable story, but certainly not Nixon at her best. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-32567-3

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.


Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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The pleasure of the protagonists’ romance notwithstanding, give this one a miss. (Romance. 14-18)


A hospital is an unlikely place for first love, but for two teenagers with cystic fibrosis who have a history of extended stays, it proves to be a realistic yet difficult backdrop.

Stella is a high school senior who is dedicated to her CF treatments while Will, a talented artist, is home-schooled and anticipating his 18th birthday, when he will be free to make his own medical decisions. Despite rocky first impressions, Stella and Will make a deal—Will must stick to his treatment regimen, and in return, Stella will model for him while he draws her portrait. This leads to romance, but the combination of CF and Will’s infection with B. cepacia requires that he must stay several feet away from Stella, making physical touch an impossibility. Stella eventually understands why living on the edge can be freeing, and Will begins taking his treatment regimen seriously—leading to their only bit of meaningful development. The novel is written in alternating chapters, creating a few unexpected plot developments, but much of it is predictable and forgettable due to thin characterization. All characters are presumed white except for gay, Colombian CF patient Poe, whose story arc fulfills tired stereotypical tropes and who seems to function mostly as a catalyst for Stella’s growth.

The pleasure of the protagonists’ romance notwithstanding, give this one a miss. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3733-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2019

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