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An amusing, quirky tale of a girl who feels invisible (but isn’t) becoming embarrassingly famous in her community for a photo involving cleavage. When Aunt Sarah sends 13-year-old Floey a training bra—several sizes smaller than Floey needs—friend Azra snaps a gag photo of Floey posed seductively, bra over nightgown but creating neckline cleavage. Nasty cousins come to stay for three weeks and, with the neighborhood bully, post both the photo and Floey’s diary online. Local 11-year-old boys and one 15-year-old are entranced. Floey temporarily loses her two best friends from love-triangle issues, but the diary’s exposure causes nothing serious; the Web site must go, however, so the New Floey plots its demise. Along the way, she acquires purple hair, her very own Zen cowboy and the sweet idea that perhaps love sometimes lasts (proven by old people skinny-dipping blissfully at midnight). Marred only by typically teen-aged, but unnecessary slams of fat people. An entertaining contribution to the current private-diary-made-public trend. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 10, 2005

ISBN: 0-385-73241-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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Curtis debuts with a ten-year-old's lively account of his teenaged brother's ups and downs. Ken tries to make brother Byron out to be a real juvenile delinquent, but he comes across as more of a comic figure: getting stuck to the car when he kisses his image in a frozen side mirror, terrorized by his mother when she catches him playing with matches in the bathroom, earning a shaved head by coming home with a conk. In between, he defends Ken from a bully and buries a bird he kills by accident. Nonetheless, his parents decide that only a long stay with tough Grandma Sands will turn him around, so they all motor from Michigan to Alabama, arriving in time to witness the infamous September bombing of a Sunday school. Ken is funny and intelligent, but he gives readers a clearer sense of Byron's character than his own and seems strangely unaffected by his isolation and harassment (for his odd look—he has a lazy eye—and high reading level) at school. Curtis tries to shoehorn in more characters and subplots than the story will comfortably bear—as do many first novelists—but he creates a well-knit family and a narrator with a distinct, believable voice. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-385-32175-9

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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Ultimately, Burg’s lyrical prose will make readers think about the common ground among peoples, despite inevitable...

Melding the colors of heartache and loss with painterly strokes, Burg creates a vivid work of art about a girl grieving for her recently deceased mother against a Third World backdrop.

Clare is not speaking to her father. She has vowed never to speak to him again. Which could be tough, since the pair just touched down in Malawi. There, Clare finds herself struck by the contrast between American wealth and the relatively bare-bones existence of her new friends. Drowning in mourning and enraged at the emptiness of grief, Clare is a hurricane of early-adolescent emotions. Her anger toward her father crackles like lightning in the treetops. She finds purpose, though, in teaching English to the younger children, which leads her out of grief. Burg’s imagery shimmers. “The girl talks to her mother in a language that sounds like fireworks, full of bursts and pops. She holds her hand over her mouth giggling.... She probably has so many minutes with her mother, she can’t even count them.” Her realization of the setting and appreciation for the Malawian people are so successful that they compensate for Clare's wallowing, which sometimes feels contrived.

Ultimately, Burg’s lyrical prose will make readers think about the common ground among peoples, despite inevitable disparities. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-73471-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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