RIMWALKERS

A beautifully written story of a ``growing-up'' summer on an Illinois farm, recollected 20 years later by Victoria, who was then a shy, self-effacing girl of 14, overshadowed by her ebullient younger sister Sara. Victoria and her two male cousins, all outsiders in different ways, become a tightly bonded trio that gradually shuts Sara out, leading to near-tragedy when Sara attempts to emulate their ``rimwalking''—walking a thin ledge above danger (e.g., on the roofbeams of a crumbling old house, the railings of an abandoned bridge, or the rim of a huge grain wagon). The themes of sibling conflict and growth through risk-taking, the saga of family history, and even a tantalizingly ambiguous ghost story are seamlessly interwoven, while the rural setting is rendered with complete authority. Grove's earlier plots were driven by social problems (farm foreclosure in Good-Bye, My Wishing Star; unemployment, alcoholism, and witch-hunting in Junglerama; homelessness in The Fastest Friend in the West). Here her gift for characterization allows events to flow from personalities and their interactions. A talented novelist, hitting her stride. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 1993

ISBN: 0-399-22430-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1993

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

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

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STARGIRL

Newbery-winning Spinelli spins a magical and heartbreaking tale from the stuff of high school. Eleventh-grader Leo Borlock cannot quite believe the new student who calls herself Stargirl. Formerly home-schooled, Stargirl comes to their Arizona high school with a pet rat and a ukulele, wild clothes and amazing habits. She sings “Happy Birthday” to classmates in the lunchroom, props a small glass vase with a daisy on her desk each class, and reenergizes the cheerleading squad with her boundless enthusiasm. But Stargirl even cheers for the opposing team. She’s so threatening to the regular ways of her fellows that she’s shunned. No one will touch her or speak to her—or applaud her success when she wins a state speech tournament. Leo’s in love with her, but finds that if he’s with her, he’s shunned, too. She loves him enough to try to fit in, but when that fails spectacularly, she illuminates the spring school dance like a Roman candle and disappears. The desert—old bones, flowering cactus, scented silence—is a living presence here. So is the demon of conformity, a teen monster of what’s normal, a demon no less hideous because it’s so well internalized in us all. Leo chooses normalcy over star stuff, but looking back as an adult he finds Stargirl’s presence in a hundred different ways in his own and in his former classmates’ lives. Once again Spinelli takes his readers on a journey where choices between the self and the group must be made, and he is wise enough to show how hard they are, even when sweet. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-679-88637-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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