BLISTER by Susan Shreve


Age Range: 8 - 12
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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. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-439-19313-3
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2001


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