OUT OF FOCUS by Margaret Buffie


Age Range: 14 & up
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When 16-year-old photographer Bernie Dodd discovers that her great-aunt Charlotte has left Black Spruce Lodge (in northwestern Ontario) to her single, alcoholic mother, she demands (with a threat to call Social Services) that the family leave their roach-infested apartment and open the lodge for business. It has an immediate affect on the family: Ally, Bernie’s brother, relaxes his obsessive-compulsive tendencies and her mother not only remains sober, but resumes her role as caregiver from Bernie. So why is Bernie still so angry at her mother and attracted to the older, two-timing novelist rather than the nice boy next door? Analyzing her own photography, finding answers to Charlotte’s mysterious life and realizing the similarities she shares with her mother help put Bernie’s “out of focus” life back in perspective. Although the story sports many coincidences (e.g., the lodge just happens to have a dark room) and a rushed ending, it offers a realistic depiction of teenage emotions and the mother-daughter conflict. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-55337-955-1
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Kids Can
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2006


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