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12 AGAIN by Sue Corbett

12 AGAIN

By Sue Corbett

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: July 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-525-46899-4
Publisher: Dutton

In this odd, cross-genre pairing, a boy tries to solve the mystery of his mother’s disappearance, not knowing that she has turned into a child herself and is now his classmate. Told from two points of view, this part mystery, part supernatural hybrid goes back and forth between Patrick, a 12-year-old boy whose mother has vanished, and Bernadette, his mother. Though discombobulated by the experience of being 12 again, Bernadette enjoys her second go-round in middle school and her reunion with her own mother, a superstitious, unassimilated Irish immigrant who is dead in the present. Seemingly less out of affection and more because he’s stuck doing chores and caring for his younger brothers, Patrick repeatedly e-mails his mother and tries to piece together clues to her whereabouts. Meanwhile, Bernadette learns from her research into Irish folklore that her problems are the work of magical and malicious fairies. To rid herself of the fairies and return to her adult self, Bernadette takes her mother’s advice and asks Patrick for help, which brings the duel story lines together, focuses the action and causes grandmother and mother and mother and son to value each other in more profound ways. After a crackerjack opening, the story stumbles a bit—Bernadette’s middle-school experiences seem off point and her quest to return to her adult life initially lacks urgency—before regaining its footing in the unexpected territory of Irish fairy lore. Still: original, unusual, and imaginative. (Fiction. 10-14)