SWITCHING WELL by Peni R. Griffin


Age Range: 10 - 14
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 On the day of San Antonio's 1891 ``Battle of the Flowers,'' Ada Bauer, chafing under a teacher's criticism of her essay on women's rights, stands over a well and wishes she ``lived a hundred years from now.'' On the same day in 1991, Amber Burak- -who's just learned that her parents are divorcing and who's distressed by the children's troubles in a home where her mom is a social worker--makes the same wish in reverse. Both come true. In alternating chapters, using parallel experiences, each girl makes friends, endures the rigors of a children's home, and is taken in by the other's parents. With each era viewed from the perspective of the other, the wealth of social history here is put into sharp relief, with some surprising similarities (there were drug addicts and unhappy marriages in 1891, too) as well as advantages and disadvantages in each. While bringing in many amusing details (neither girl's money is usable--inflation renders Ada's worthless; Amber's coins bear unknown faces) and several serious themes (Ada's heritage is German; Amber is Jewish, with a passionately anti-German grandfather, a Holocaust survivor), Griffin keeps events moving briskly and gets the girls home again via a clever mechanism, meanwhile making some satisfying revelations about Ada's later life and its impact on the characters of the present. Thoughtful, expertly plotted, richly imaginative and entertaining. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 30th, 1993
ISBN: 0-689-50581-7
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: McElderry
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993


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