LARK IN THE MORNING

A gay teenager hides two runaways while trying to help the more disturbed youngster find a reason to live. Even before she takes on Lark and her brother Jackie, Gillian Harrison is having trouble managing the fact that she's gay, hasn't told her close-knit family, and will soon be leaving her beloved Suzanne to go to Oregon State. But when she finds two kids camping out in an old hut and living by stealing food and blankets from summer cottages, she can't bring herself to report them: they've already been betrayed too often, especially by their own abusive father. Still, helping them poses risks: Lark, a mercurial, intense 15-year-old, plans to commit suicide as soon as Jackie is safely housed with their aunt. When Gillian leaves a note for her already-worried family—they have no idea why she has been so secretive and unlike herself—and drives the two to New Hampshire, she's terrified that she isn't doing what's best. Like Lisa and Annie in Garden's Annie on My Mind (1982), Suzanne and Gillian are likable girls trying to deal responsibly with their sexual preference. Here, their story is almost a backdrop to Lark and Jackie's tale—or would be, except that theirs isn't entirely in the foreground either. Nevertheless: an involving, smoothly written novel with believable characters and engrossing issues. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 10, 1991

ISBN: 0-374-34338-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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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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