MEMORIES OF SUMMER

When 13-year-old Lyric and 16-year-old Summer move from Glory Bottom, Virginia, to Flint, Michigan, in 1955, life changes for them in ways no one would have expected. Their father is seeking a better way of life for them, trying to get a job in an automobile factory, and they must adjust to the ways of the city, so different from the small town they’ve known. As Summer’s already strange behavior moves into episodes of extreme paranoia, Lyric becomes her primary caretaker, switching roles with the sister who has lovingly taken care of her since their mother died. Summer’s swift and certain descent into mental illness—her first impressions of disappearing and losing her shadow, along with attempts at self-mutilation using razors and matches—are documented in Lyric’s poignant words. Added to Lyric’s burden is her understanding that she cannot allow her new friends to know that she has this strange and difficult sister. When home care becomes impossible, heart-rending choices must be made as must acceptance of the inevitable—the state hospital. White (Belle Prater’s Boy, not reviewed, etc.) portrays Summer’s illness and Lyric’s devotion to her with her customary compassion and caring sensitivity. This is a thoughtful view into a time and place, as well as a loving commentary on the strength of family bonds. Memorable. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2000

ISBN: 0-374-34945-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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FOOTBALL GENIUS

Sixth-grader Troy White is a one-of-a-kind athlete with the ability to predict which plays any football team will run even before the ball is snapped. However, his mental talents don’t help him crack his youth-league team’s starting lineup (the coach plays his own son at quarterback). Troy dreams of pitching his talent to his beloved Atlanta Falcons, helping them post a winning season. Seemingly an after-school-special waiting to happen, and marked by cinematic writing, this feel-good story has a place in libraries fielding requests for clean and uplifting stories. Touching scenes of underdog Troy wishing he had a father to help him are contrasted with very realistic on-the-field football action, which is not surprising considering that the author is a former NFL player. Many actual players’ names are dropped throughout the story but some, like Randy Moss, may soon switch teams. More than a sports story, romance pops up as Troy nudges star Falcon linebacker Seth Halloway to date Troy’s mother. This light and fast-paced story will appeal to the tween crowd. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-112270-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2007

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GETTING NEAR TO BABY

Couloumbis’s debut carries a family through early stages of grief with grace, sensitivity, and a healthy dose of laughter. In the wake of Baby’s sudden death, the three Deans remaining put up no resistance when Aunt Patty swoops in to take away 12-year-old Willa Jo and suddenly, stubbornly mute JoAnn, called “Little Sister,” in the misguided belief that their mother needs time alone. Well-meaning but far too accustomed to getting her way, Aunt Patty buys the children unwanted new clothes, enrolls them in a Bible day camp for one disastrous day, and even tries to line up friends for them. While politely tolerating her hovering, the two inseparable sisters find their own path, hooking up with a fearless, wonderfully plainspoken teenaged neighbor and her dirt-loving brothers, then, acting on an obscure but ultimately healing impulse, climbing out onto the roof to get a bit closer to Heaven, and Baby. Willa Jo tells the tale in a nonlinear, back-and-forth fashion that not only prepares readers emotionally for her heartrending account of Baby’s death, but also artfully illuminates each character’s depths and foibles; the loving relationship between Patty and her wiser husband Hob is just as complex and clearly drawn as that of Willa Jo and Little Sister. Lightening the tone by poking gentle fun at Patty and some of her small-town neighbors, the author creates a cast founded on likable, real-seeming people who grow and change in response to tragedy. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23389-X

Page Count: 211

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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