ALEX IN ROME by Tessa Duder
Kirkus Star


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In Lane Three, Alex Archer (1989) introduced a thoughtful, independent-minded champion swimmer. Now Alex, still not quite 16, is representing New Zealand in the 1960 Olympics, where--against her own expectations--she wins a bronze. Despite a conscientious chaperon she calls Bulldog, she also makes friends with another ""Kiwi,"" a 23-year-old singer who studies in Milan but is temporarily in Rome. Tom, a clever impersonator as well as fine baritone, has the rest of the team convinced that's he's an accommodating Italian; but, in the briefer alternating chapters he narrates, it's clear that his growing affection for Alex is genuine. Here, Duder re-creates the 1960's, the Roman ambience, and the Olympic experience in vivid, authentic detail, while Alex's narrative beautifully captures her heightened perceptions and sense of unreality as--disoriented in mind and body by the tension--she trains and swims to win. Meanwhile, she's wary of Tom but charmed by him; in turn, he's enchanted with her, for the right reasons. Divided, in the end, by geography and career plans as well as age, they have exchanged just one chaste kiss and are not devastated by their parting; yet they are so nice, well suited, and ultimately sensible that it's hard to imagine they won't find each other eventually. Alex frequently refers to events and characters in the first book; reading it would enrich this one, but it also stands well on its own. Well crafted and satisfyingly romantic. A scrupulous note separates fact from fiction--the protagonists only seem real.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
Page count: 166pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin