SIGNS AND WONDERS by Pat Lowery Collins


Age Range: 12 - 14
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As 14-year-old Taswell, a virgin, relates in this epistolary novel the progress of her pregnancy, she draws readers into her supreme self-confidence, toward her unshakable conviction that she is about to bring forth a prophet. From the small convent school where she has been sent because her grandmother Mavis doesn’t quite know what to do with her, Taswell writes letters. At first her case appears to be one of ordinary self-absorption, common among teenagers, but soon it becomes clear that Taswell’s belief that the world revolves around her has reached monumental proportions. She writes to the beautiful and self-possessed Mavis, to accuse her of being more concerned with her own life and career than with Taswell herself; she writes to her father, Charles, who after several marriages seems to have found a woman he really loves; and she writes to a kind of guardian spirit named Pim. Taswell holds her secret close, and readers watch with a kind of dread and fascination as it unfolds. She enlists a schoolmate to be her midwife, and as news of her pregnancy spreads, Taswell faces the school authorities and her relatives with equal ferocity. While the denouement is a bit too easy, readers will be tied into the claustrophobic interior of Taswell’s heart for the duration. With great clarity and precision, Collins shows how all the strength and good wishes of the nuns who teach Taswell, and the shortcomings of the relatives who love her, are not enough; this heroine will face her guardian angel, or angels, and see her own way clear. Riveting. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-395-97119-5
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1999