BLUE EYES BETTER by Ruth Wallace-Brodeur

BLUE EYES BETTER

Age Range: 10 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Ten-year-old Tessa Drummond has to cope with the guilt she feels about the alcohol-related car accident that killed her 16-year-old brother Scott—she knew that he lied to their parents about what he was doing that night—and her mother’s subsequent withdrawal and depression. In this touching first-person problem novel for middle-grade readers, Wallace-Brodeur (Home by Five, 1992, etc.) writes knowingly about the inherent instability and disorganization of the family unit after a beloved child dies, leaving behind a hole that can neither be filled nor fixed by the surviving sibling. Tessa, the second child in her family, feels that she’s second not only in birth order, but in her mother’s heart as well. Her mother historically identified her blue-eyed son as being like her side of the family, saying that mother and son were “kindred spirits,” while characterizing Tessa as “all Drummond,” as in her husband’s family. As her mother becomes more and more emotionally distant, Tessa struggles to keep herself whole, resourcefully developing much-needed relationships with two grown women, a neighbor who becomes her adopted bubbe, or grandmother, and Ms. Dunn, her charismatic teacher and track coach. When Ms. Dunn unaccountably disappears from the school without saying goodbye, Tessa is heartbroken and furious, her feelings of desertion magnified because she’s unable to express these sentiments to her true betrayer, her mother. This kind of novel demands a hopeful conclusion, and Wallace-Brodeur delivers, using her skill and perception to turn a rather conventional pat ending into a moving moment. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-525-46836-6
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2001




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