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From the Applewhites series, volume 1

by Stephanie S. Tolan

Age Range: 11 - 14

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-06-623602-9
Publisher: HarperCollins

Reminiscent of the loud, loving, eccentric family in Kaufman and Hart’s You Can’t Take It with You, the Applewhites are brilliantly talented and wildly adverse to mainstream mentality. As successful writers, directors, and artists, they are sure that their creative ideas will help a delinquent teen, Jake, turn away from destructive thinking and behavior and turn toward educational and personal interests that will teach him how to be happy. Even though E.D. admires her family’s brilliance, she knows they don’t have the patience and foresight to adequately plan for success; in fact, she’s the only one in the family with a creative talent for organization. Business and personal associates commonly come to visit, and many end up taking semi-permanent residence in the 16-acre paradise, adding to the already quirky group. Though they enjoy the luxury of pursuing their aspirations in the Applewhite’s comfortable home and modernized school, they are blinded by the Applewhite fame, taking E.D.’s skills for granted until the conflict of promoting Jake’s education and producing a well-known play sweeps everyone into a hurricane of activity and invention requiring the coordination that only E.D. can supply. Tolan (Flight of the Raven, 2001, etc.) systematically combines third-person narration and the semi-omniscient first-person narration of E.D. and Jake, ultimately resulting in well-built characterizations held together in a structure that smoothly organizes the chaos that busy artistic geniuses generate. (Fiction. 11-14)