Amanda, who signs all of her artwork "Zero," planned to leave Phoenix in the fall to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
A lack of funds and a rift between Amanda and her best friend, Jenn, has changed everything. Now fall looms, with nothing more than community college, her bickering parents and a sense that her art will never be good enough even to hang in the local coffee house. Then she meets Mike, a drummer in an up-and-coming band called Gothic Rainbow. Amanda's snappy, consistent voice displays the tension between her conviction that she's got what it takes to be an artist and her feelings of low self-worth, occasionally breaking into her own narrative to clarify matters with "Here's the thing." Leveen smoothly depicts Amanda’s growing self-acceptance through dialogue, as Mike encourages her with his appreciation of her talent and his refusal to go along with her negative body image. Fitting quotations from Salvador Dalí, Amanda's artistic idol, head each chapter and reflect the unfolding story. As the summer wears on, Amanda finds a new level of maturity as she grows through a battle of wills with her mother, moves toward reconciliation with Jenn and faces decisions about the direction of her relationship with Mike.
Artful. (Fiction. 14 & up)