THE BRIDGE TO NOWHERE

From the author of a number of beautifully written picture books (The Potato Man, 1991), a first novel about a seventh- grader trying to deal with her father's depression. Hallie's dad built bridges; the never-completed span across Pittsburgh's Allegheny that he was working on when he was laid off is a bitter reminder that his livelihood and his beloved vocation are both gone. He hangs out in his shop, making metal ``sculptures'' that even Mom disparages, and lashing out, especially at Hallie. Meanwhile, Hallie's becoming friends with a nice ninth grader, Crane; unfortunately, her impulse to confide her worry about Dad (she's just seen him walking the bridge's girders) coincides with Crane's first kiss, a dissonance Hallie can't handle; she flees Crane, then erupts at Dad. His response almost ends in tragedy, but extraordinary luck intervenes. The dramatic events at the end precipitate a believable reconciliation; but the fully realized characters are the book's greatest strength, especially Hallie- -thoughtful, thrown on her own by her sister's departure for college and Dad's personality change, striving (sometimes awkwardly) to build new bridges to her loved ones. The writing, too, is unusually well crafted: accessible, lyrical, with wonderfully natural dialogue (the impatience between parent and teenager, the tentative confidences of early friendship). An excellent debut. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-531-05478-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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