PHOBIAS

Slick, popular science: An Issues in Focus entry, subtitled ``Everything You Wanted to Know, But Were Afraid to Ask,'' has an appealing format and suspicious content. Monroe (Alcohol, 1994, etc.) describes phobic symptoms, gives a brief history of phobias and lists a hundred of them, theories of their cause, treatment, and where to get help. Footnotes and endnotes are provided for some statements, but Monroe makes little effort to evaluate the information or the credentials of her sources. One of them (writing for Parade magazine) is identified in the main text as ``coauthor of a musical.'' ``You may know someone with a phobia, or you may have one yourself,'' Monroe comments, backing up the statement with a quotation from Woman's Day magazine that ``About 23 million [Americans]—one out of ten—say they have a phobia.'' In a discussion of several theories, she mentions that ``90 percent of all phobias are caused by physical problems with the inner ear,'' a speculative statistic that sounds like a bald fact. The tone is compassionate, and there is valuable information buried in these pages, but it's a superficial work, more likely to mislead than enlighten. (b&w photos, notes, bibliography, glossary, index). (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-89490-723-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Enslow

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1996

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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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WHIRLIGIG

At once serious and playful, this tale of a teenager’s penitential journey to four corners of the country can be read on several levels. While attempting to kill himself on the highway after a humiliating social failure, Brent causes a fatal accident for another motorist, Lea Zamora. His sentence requires a personal act of atonement, if the victim’s family so desires; Lea’s mother hands him a bus pass and tells him to place pictorial whirligigs in Maine, Florida, Washington, and California as monuments to her daughter’s ability to make people smile. Brent sets out willingly, armed with plywood, new tools, and an old construction manual. Characteristically of Fleischman (Seedfolks, 1997, etc.), the narrative structure is unconventional: Among the chapters in which Brent constructs and places the contraptions are independent short stories that feature the whirligigs, playing significant roles in the lives of others. Brent encounters a variety of travelers and new thoughts on the road, and by the end has lost much of the sense of isolation that made his earlier aspirations to be one of the in-crowd so important. The economy of language and sustained intensity of feeling are as strongly reminiscent of Cynthia Rylant’s Missing May (1992) as are the wind toys and, at least in part, the theme, but Fleischman’s cast and mood are more varied, sometimes even comic, and it’s Brent’s long physical journey, paralleled by his inner one, that teaches him to look at the world and himself with new eyes. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8050-5582-7

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

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