Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by M.E. Kerr

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-06-028435-8
Publisher: HarperCollins

In her uniquely urbane, savage, savagely funny way, Kerr (“Hello,” I Lied, 1998, etc.) sends a trio of teenagers into the terra incognita between “Like” and “Love,” as past sins come home to roost in a small Pennsylvania town. A party invitation brings Edgar Cayce Tobbit, Neal, his friend from group therapy, and Julie, lonely adopted niece of widowed billionaire Rosalind Slaymaster, together. Various triangles develop, all with unequal sides; put too simply, Julie falls for Neal but is more comfortable with E.C. around, while E.C. feels her taking up permanent residence in his awareness, and Neal, less deeply involved, struggles to find the vocabulary to explain what’s going on. Presiding over the tale is Rosalind, orphaned child of retarded parents and former worker in the local funeral home, who grew up the butt of constant derision until swept away by a Texas oilman, only to return to exact revenge. Rosalind is sharp-tongued, utterly ruthless, and decidedly weird—for Peale, her constant companion and dancing partner, is a doll with a place at every dinner table, lavish living quarters, a large tailored wardrobe, even a passport. Thinking E.C. no threat, Rosalind enlists him as Julie’s platonic buddy, not only coming to regret her decision when photos of a skinny-dipping session come to light, but to suffer a nervous breakdown after E.C., in a vain effort to keep Julie from being whisked back to Texas, “kidnaps” Peale, who is subsequently eaten by his Airedale. Thick with ironies, oddball humor, subplots, and complications, featuring a cast of smart, variously flawed characters, nearly all of whom have achieved, at best, a fragile emotional equilibrium after losing loved ones, this again demonstrates Kerr’s uncommon gift for chewy romantic comedies built around complex emotional situations. (Fiction. 12+)