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by Lori Aurelia Williams

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-82469-6
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

This sequel to When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune (2000) stands firmly on its own merits. In the summer of Shayla’s 13th birthday, she faces her painful relationship with her father, the nature of friendship, and her own developing identity. Through Shayla’s eyes, readers watch her family and friends take on adventures in which they never leave their neighborhood but still solve mysteries and make discoveries about themselves and others. The reader is sucked into the lives of this family that nothing keeps down for long—not poverty, not personal betrayals, not their own frailties. Besides Shayla and her folks, Kambia Elaine is back, having loving parents now but still a victim, this time of a chain of cruel pranks. And Shayla reluctantly befriends Lemm, a boy with the gift of gab and a bag full of troubles, who makes Shayla’s skin tingle in the weirdest way when their hands touch. In this character-driven book, there are occasional contrivances of plot and at least one big coincidence. And yes, the ending may be a little too happy to be totally believable. But these are minor faults in a wonderfully noteworthy effort. Characters are defined through descriptive language, pithy sayings, and artfully constructed dialog. The text is lushly descriptive, filled with eloquent, evocative similes and metaphors. Though many of the events in the book are serious, this is not a depressing read—there are touches of lightness and humor and an ending filled with hope. A fine second effort from a promising author. (Fiction. YA)