THE GROOMING OF ALICE

From the Alice McKinley series , Vol. 15

Alice continues to model safe, commonsensical ways of navigating the foggy shoals of adolescence, as the summer before high school brings crises, comedy, beginnings, endings, and new life skills. Actually, Alice, with a rewarding new job as a candy striper and a boyfriend who turns out to be as good a cook as he is a kisser, has it pretty good. It's those around her—older brother Lester, whose new squeeze is an imperious fashion plate, best buddies Elizabeth and Pamela, the former veering toward anorexia, the latter struggling through a stormy relationship with her father—who provide most of the angst. As usual, though, Alice provides most of the theater, and before this voyage ends she has helped teach Elizabeth how to use a tampon; learned to administer a self-examination (“Well, I said to my privates, Nice to meet you”); rides out the death of her beloved sixth-grade teacher; and hits a crest of joy when her father and junior-high English teacher Sylvia Summers finally—finally!—announce their engagement. Sailing through her 12th “Alice” with nary a sign of series fatigue, Naylor, as usual, masterfully imparts physical, social, and emotional information while bringing readers to tears and laughter. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82633-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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BURIED ONIONS

Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. His aunt and friends want him to avenge the recent murder of his cousin, but Eddie just wants to find a way out. Everything he tries turns soura stint doing yard work ends when his boss's truck is stolen on Eddie's watchand life is a daily battle for survival. This unrelenting portrait is unsparing in squalid details: The glue sniffers, gangs, bums, casual knifings, filth, and stench are in the forefront of a life without much hope``Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant, unemployable people.'' Soto plays the tale straightthe only sign of a ``happy'' ending is in Eddie's joining the Navy. The result is a sort of Fresno Salaam Bombay without the pockets of humanity that gave the original its charm. A valuable tale, it's one that makes no concessions. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201333-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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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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