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OUTSIDE IN by Karen Romano Young

OUTSIDE IN

By Karen Romano Young

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: May 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-688-17363-2
Publisher: Greenwillow/HarperCollins

It’s 1968, a year of tumultuous change in the world that Chérie knows. In first-person narrative, she describes that year in a voice that is thoughtful and self-aware. She knows she hates to see the headlines about Bobby Kennedy’s assassination and people dying in Vietnam. She becomes obsessed with the sinister disappearance of a girl about her own age with long braids like hers. Her parents are quarreling about moving out of the house that’s become too small, especially with a baby on the way. Her sister, Aimée, is abnormally afraid of many things and sometimes Chérie can sympathize. But she can’t quite cope with her conflicting feelings for Dave, who should be her friend but whose brother does mean and vicious things. What’s lovely about this fresh and compelling tale is how vibrant the characters are; Chérie isn’t defined just by her quirks, nor is Aimée reduced to her fears. A rich and complicated cast of parents completes the picture. Readers will cheer when Aimée finally takes the training wheels off her bike and with each constructed addition Chérie makes to Elfland (elf-sized furniture and accoutrements for elf-sized dolls). “Everything that you are waiting for is different when it finally arrives,” muses Chérie. It’s small shards of life—a haircut, a move away, a headline—that propel the story from April to November of that intense year. Those shards are defined always by Chérie’s sweet, sharp voice, one that readers will find comfortably familiar. (Fiction. 10-14)