A teenager frees himself from his older brother's surreptitious abuse and his own physical deformities in this psychological thriller. After years of enduring nocturnal taunts, Joseph has grown to despise his twisted, seizure-prone body and brother Seb in equal measure; watching the boats off shore and in the local boatyard provide his only comfort. When, to his delight, an old boatwright wills him a small sailboat, Joseph discovers his ability to anticipate, and even control, wind and wave. He wins several races, infuriating Seb, who attempts to murder Joseph. Does Joseph hate Seb enough to kill him? After engineering an accident that leaves Seb close to death, he realizes that he has committed an evil act. In a wrenching final scene, Joseph finds peace by trading his own life for Seb's, a resolution more shocking than just. Bowler becomes a different writer when his characters are on the water, envisioning and describing races and other marine episodes more vividly than incidents on land. Joseph is a compelling figure, unable to read or write, virtually unable to speak, but sharply alert and—in the course of his first-person narration—articulate about his feelings. Seb is less convincing, not as scary as the publically genial, privately vicious abusers in books such as Kristen Randle's The Only Alien On the Planet (1994), but that hardly detracts from this unsettling work. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-689-80115-7

Page Count: 159

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet