SOUTH OF HEAVEN

WELCOME TO HIGH SCHOOL AT THE END OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

A remarkably intimate—even painfully so—picture of a year in the life of a group of Florida high-school students. Education reporter French (Unanswered Cries, 1991) spent a year in Pinellas County's Largo High School, writing an award- winning series of articles for The St. Petersburg Times. The response from both adult and teenage readers was so positive that French returned to the school to gather additional material for this book by attending classes and social events, hanging out during breaks, and interviewing students, faculty, and families. So revealing is his portrait of teenage life today that one wonders how he did it: How did he persuade these young people to open up to him not only about school, study, and their futures, but also about their home lives, loves, jealousies, intrigues, and uninhibited good times? But open up they did, and their sad, brave, hopeful, and sometimes silly stories are recounted vividly here. Among the students are bright Mike Broome, who's so angry that no one- -teachers, friends, mother, brother—can reach him, and who eventually drops out; John Boyd, whose college football scholarship is threatened when he buys a gun to defend himself against the drug-dealers in his neighborhood and who stops a bullet with his history book; Andrea Taylor, who becomes the first black homecoming queen in Largo's history; and Christine Younskevicius, one of the ``Fearsome Foursome,'' a group of high-profile young women who run the school newspaper, throw darts at a picture of the principal, and take the author on an exuberant scavenger hunt. Here are the algebra tests, the hall passes, the dances and parties—but also the class that has only one student whose parents still live together in a ``traditional'' family; the scramble for high SAT scores; and the striving to earn money, find love, and maintain equilibrium without getting pregnant or doing drugs. An exceptionally revealing—and sympathetic—journey into the isolated, high-pressure world of our teenagers.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-385-42529-5

Page Count: 365

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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