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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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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LOVE, STARGIRL

Fifteen-year-old Susan “Stargirl” Caraway has moved to Pennsylvania, but as independent and free-spirited as she is, she can’t seem to let go of Arizona and her old boyfriend Leo Borlock. She’s lonely, even in the midst of a loving family and a colorful cast of characters in her new town. There’s five-year-old spitfire Dootsie, agoraphobic Betty Lou, angry Alvina, Margie the donut queen and mysterious Perry, a potential new boy in Stargirl’s life. As much as readers will relish this community and wish Stargirl would get on with her life there and forget mooning over Leo, she can’t seem to, and the whole leisurely paced novel is “the world’s longest letter” to him. Humor, graceful writing, lively characters and important lessons about life will make this a hit with fans of Stargirl (2000) and anyone who likes a quiet, reflective novel. Those meeting Stargirl here for the first time will want to read the previous work to see if Leo is worthy of her devotion. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-375-81375-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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