A ten-year-old girl goes about the task of re-creating herself when both her parents fail her utterly in this exploration of the backstory of a character first introduced in Shreve’s Jonah, the Whale (1998). Alyssa Reed has always thought her life was just about perfect, until the truth of her parents’ failing marriage confronts her starkly after her eagerly awaited little sister is stillborn. In fairly short order, her family moves away from their idyllic country home—and her delightfully feisty grandmother, a septuagenarian dance champion—to a featureless apartment complex in the city, and then her father moves out altogether, leaving Alyssa alone with her severely depressed mother. It is then that she christens herself “Blister”: “Since she couldn’t depend on her mother and father, who had turned out to be made of breakable glass, then she’d depend on herself. After all, she was ‘elastic’ . . . ” Blister’s self-possession and sometimes crystalline awareness of the way of the world (“You decide we move, and so we move. That’s control, and I don’t have it,” she tells her father) seem out of step with her previously sheltered existence and quite un-childlike, but her essential struggle to regain control over a life that’s turned upside-down has the ring of truth. Elaborate (and psychologically perfect) daydreams form the foundations of plots to separate her father from her new girlfriend and to achieve fifth-grade popularity via cheerleading. They then fizzle when they confront reality, but the reader gets the sense that Blister won’t be down for long. Spunky and resolute, Blister is a character many readers will understand intimately. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-19313-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Did you like this book?



From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

Did you like this book?