WHAT EVERY GIRL (EXCEPT ME) KNOWS

In this unusual, deeply felt story about a motherless girl, 12-year-old Gabby lives with her painter father and older brother, Ian. She longs not only for a mother to instruct her in the womanly arts, but also for a best friend to share things with. Her wishes are suddenly answered when Cleo, her favorite of all the women her father has dated, becomes engaged to her dad and a wonderful new girl joins her school class. Gabby is relieved and happy that she has finally found females she can connect with, until the unexpected happens. Her father and Cleo break up, and in a heart-wrenching gasp-out-loud moment, Cleo shatters Gabby's hopes for a fairytale family with a real mother at the helm. But Cleo's temporary presence has awoken Gabby's long-dormant curiosity about her own mother. She's particularly interested in probing into her mother's mysterious death, a taboo topic in her household and something she has always felt guilty about. Determined to find out the truth, she talks her older brother into accompanying her on a pilgrimage to New York, hoping a visit to their old home will jog their collective memories. There she learns some hard, though guilt-relieving truths, finally becoming able to have "embraced her [mother's] existence" and say "good-bye." Although slow in spots, Baskin's first person narrative is smoothly engaging overall, and the dialogue rings true. The sympathetic protagonist has reality and dimension, and readers should be squarely in her corner as she goes through the difficult process of becoming a young woman. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-316-07021-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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SEVENTH GRADE TANGO

PLB 0-7868-2427-1 The content and concerns of Levy’s latest is at odds with the young reading level and large type size, which may prevent this novel’s natural audience of middle schoolers from finding a fast and funny read. In sixth grade, Rebecca broke her friend Scott’s toe at a dance. Now, in seventh grade, they are partners in a ballroom dance class, and they soon find they dance well together, but that makes Rebecca’s friend Samantha jealous. She gives a party during which spin-the-bottle is played, kissing Scott and then bullying him into being her boyfriend. While Rebecca deals with her mixed feelings about all this, she also has a crush on her dance instructor. Levy (My Life as a Fifth-Grade Comedian, 1997, etc.) has great comedic timing and writes with a depth of feeling to make early adolescent romantic travails engaging; she also comes through on the equally difficult feat of making ballroom dancing appealing to young teens. The obsession with kissing, pre-sexual tension, and sensuality of the dancing will be off-putting or engrossing, depending entirely on readers’ comfort levels with such conversations in real life as well as on the page. Precocious preteens will find that this humorously empathetic take on budding romance is just right. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7868-0498-X

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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I'M NOT WHO YOU THINK I AM

In an age of missing children, Kehret (The Blizzard Disaster, 1998, etc.) spins an exciting tale about a deranged mother and the child—not hers’she stalks. Ginger has long had the feeling that somebody is watching her; during her 13th birthday party in a restaurant, she sees a strange woman staring at her, who also appears to write down the license plate number when Ginger’s family drives away. Questions nag at Ginger but she brushes them off, facing other, more ordinary problems. A meddlesome parent, Mrs. Vaughn, is trying to get Mr. Wren, Ginger’s basketball coach, fired; wanting more playing time for her own daughter, Mrs. Vaughn has concocted a list of complaints, claiming that Mr. Wren doesn’t teach basic skills. Ginger, an aspiring sports announcer, has videotaped many of the practices and has the evidence to prove Mrs. Vaughn wrong, but is afraid—as is most of the community—of getting on the woman’s wrong side. The stalking of Ginger, her near-kidnapping, and her attempt to live honorably by coming forward to save Mr. Wren converge in a dramatic climax. While the story reads like a thriller, the character development and moral dilemmas add depth and substance. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-525-46153-1

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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