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Blume returns to the trio of seventh graders introduced in Just as Long as We're Together (1987), where Stephanie's narration was colored by her parents' new separation. Here, superachiever Rachel takes center stage with her account of the stresses created when her brother Charles is kicked out of boarding school before he's finished ninth grade. Charles's description of his family is one-sided but cruelly on target: Dad (who gave up law for teaching) is a "wimp," Mom (just appointed a judge) an "ice-queen," acne-scarred older sister Jessica a "potato head"—while Rachel, who at year's end is just beginning to realize that she won't be able to play the flute, take leading roles in drama and a peer-counseling program, do advanced study at a local college, and be class president (all things suggested to her) is Mom's "clone," and more than Charles can bear. His acting out is genuinely, painfully obnoxious; it's a credit to Blume's skill that his vulnerability also emerges, and that the rebalanced family dynamics following his disruptive return is sufficiently muted to be credible. With a good tutor and a stronger bond with Dad, Charles mellows enough for Rachel to see him as more than a destroyer of family peace- -and for him to admit she may be developing a sense of humor. A good, solid, working-the-family-problem story, with sure appeal for fans. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-531-06801-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1993

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The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a...

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. 

Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. 

The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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