LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI

In this Australian import, Marchetta gets the voice of teenage angst just right in a hormone saturated coming-of-age story. Josephine Alibrandi, 17 and of Italian descent, is torn between her traditional upbringing, embodied by both her immigrant grandmother and her overprotective mother, and the norms of teenage society. A scholarship student at an esteemed Catholic girls’ school, she struggles with feelings of inferiority not only because she’s poorer than the other students and an “ethnic,” but because her mother never married. These feelings are intensified when her father, whom she’s just met, enters and gradually becomes part of her life. As Josephine struggles to weave the disparate strands of her character into a cohesive tapestry of self, she discovers some unsavory family secrets, falls in love for the first time, copes with a friend’s suicide, and goes from being a follower to a leader. Although somewhat repetitive and overlong, this is a tender, convincing portrayal of a girl’s bumpy ride through late adolescence. Some of the Australian expressions may be unfamiliar to US readers, but the emotions translate perfectly. (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-531-30142-7

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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GUTS

THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HATCHET AND THE BRIAN BOOKS

Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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TIES THAT BIND, TIES THAT BREAK

Namioka (Den of the White Fox, 1997, etc.) offers readers a glimpse of the ritual of foot-binding, and a surprising heroine whose life is determined by her rejection of that ritual. Ailin is spirited—her family thinks uncontrollable—even at age five, in her family’s compound in China in 1911, she doesn’t want to have her feet bound, especially after Second Sister shows Ailin her own bound feet and tells her how much it hurts. Ailin can see already how bound feet will restrict her movements, and prevent her from running and playing. Her father takes the revolutionary step of permitting her to leave her feet alone, even though the family of Ailin’s betrothed then breaks off the engagement. Ailin goes to the missionary school and learns English; when her father dies and her uncle cuts off funds for tuition, she leaves her family to become a nanny for an American missionary couple’s children. She learns all the daily household chores that were done by servants in her own home, and finds herself, painfully, cut off from her own culture and separate from the Americans. At 16, she decides to go with the missionaries when they return to San Francisco, where she meets and marries another Chinese immigrant who starts his own restaurant. The metaphor of things bound and unbound is a ribbon winding through this vivid narrative; the story moves swiftly, while Ailin is a brave and engaging heroine whose difficult choices reflect her time and her gender. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-32666-1

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1999

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