TAKEOFFS AND LANDINGS by Margaret Peterson Haddix


Age Range: 12 - 15
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Pretty, popular Lori, 14, feels that just about all she has in common with her fat, slow, older brother Chuck is their mother, their father having died eight years ago. Even this shared connection seems pretty hollow to Lori, as their mother, an inspirational speaker, is on the road more often than not, leaving Lori, Chuck, and their three younger siblings at home with their grandparents in rural Ohio. The prospect of two weeks on tour with her mother, then, with Chuck in tow, is not her idea of a good time. The progress of this story is entirely predictable: Chuck and Lori each learn more about themselves and their mother; the increasing tension among all three characters comes to a head at the end of the trip; and they have a therapeutic air-clearing in which all psychological wounds are salved and the way is laid for more healthy relationships to begin to grow. While the resolution is never in doubt, the narrative technique that takes the reader there makes it worth the while. The third-person narration alternates between Chuck and Lori, and Haddix (Among the Impostors, p. 660, etc.) deftly creates two entirely distinct voices: Lori, an impatient, self-absorbed teen whose resentment toward her mother is palpable, and Chuck, a boy whose sense of self-worth is so low it is painful to witness. Their mother is occasionally allowed to break in with her own self-justifications, which, while they are psychologically consistent and serve to keep the plot moving, do not ring as true as the kids’ narratives. Don’t read this for the plot; read it for the sensitive explorations of character and emotion in a family under stress. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-83299-0
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2001


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