YOU BET YOUR LIFE by Julie Reece Deaver


Age Range: 12 & up
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 The author of Say Goodnight, Gracie (1988) explores similar themes while depicting a young comedian coming to terms with her mother's suicide. Like Deaver's earlier protagonists, Bess is involved in the performing arts. She's an after-school intern for a talk show; she's also drafted by Elliot, an aspiring comic who runs the building's elevator, as his partner for occasional appearances. Both are gifted--their witty repartee, on stage and off, is a delight--but Bess has trouble trusting any new relationship ever since her loving, irresistibly funny mother's death, which Bess experienced as desertion. Again, Deaver's supporting characters are uniformly wise and sympathetic: Dad, who's working through his own grief; Bess's boss, who becomes her confidante and mother-surrogate, but discreetly holds back until Bess is ready for closer ties; even Mom, who's presented as an exemplary parent who lost her battle with clinical depression. The result is a tad unrealistic, if heartwarming; but it allows Deaver to focus on Bess's loss and sense of betrayal and its resolution. Skillfully, she develops Mom's character and Bess's close relationship with her through conversations, memories, and Bess's troubled, diary-like letters to her, interspersed through the book. An unusually subtle and likable portrait of a talented, thoughtful young woman weathering with distinction the aftershocks of a trauma. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: July 30th, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-021516-X
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993