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I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER

The plot, a pell-mell contrivance, isn’t so much the point as is the hormones and humiliation of life in Teenage Wasteland.

A former scribe for Beavis and Butt-Head and The Simpsons humorously addresses the agony and ecstasy of adolescence.

It’s high-school hell, where jocks and geeks alike guzzle “diet vanilla cherry lime kiwi coke,” scan car radios for tunes by “Jakob Dylan’s dad” and cheer at the senior variety show when “the Sullen Girl sang, wringing fresh bitterness from the already alkaline lyrics.” Doyle has the scene down cold. Coldest (and best) is his wince-inducing master creation, ultra-nerd Denis Cooverman. Best pals with maybe-gay vintage-movie-addled Rich Munsch (at Buffalo Grove High, they’re called “Penis and Dick Munch”), Denis is the Star Wars–loving debate-team captain valedictorian who delivers a revolutionary graduation-night speech: Shockingly and suicidally, he outs classmates for their eating disorders, bullying, zero self-esteem and sexual abuse at the hands of relatives. Knees trembling, he adds his own confession: “I love you, Beth Cooper!”—pretty, pouty Lolita, cheerleader in excelsis. Then red with shame and bravado, he invites her to a party at his house, where his mom, indulging him, this time opts not for such organic treats as “croque-tofu, like grilled cheese only terrible” but a groaning board of “Triple Minty M&M’s” and “Quatro Formaggy Cheetos.” Miracle of miracles, Beth actually shows up, accompanied by two Lolitettes. Thus begins the most memorable night of Cooverman’s life, a nadir/zenith during which he flees from Beth’s Army Man boyfriend, finagles illegal booze, rides through the night like a mad romantic from a Meatloaf video and ends up making out.

The plot, a pell-mell contrivance, isn’t so much the point as is the hormones and humiliation of life in Teenage Wasteland.

Pub Date: May 8, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-123617-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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