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Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1992)
The author of Wonder (1991) presents another perceptive story about kids in the same junior high. Here, she focuses on eighth-grader Whitman Levy, just beginning to be preoccupied by his potential with girls when his parents decide to split up. First glimpsed in a comical opening scene in a closet with popular Sheila during a party game, he's unsure "how you get started"; he's also good friends with nice, bright Andi, who is black, but ends up with irrepressible Owen, his wife in the school production of Bye, Bye Birdie. Meanwhile, best friend Doug slights Andi in another kissing game but, though Doug's racism deeply distresses Whit, he never quite realizes that nice Mackey is actually becoming a better friend. More distressing, Dad starts an affair with Liz, attractive young director of the play. Still, Whit is ready to meet Dad halfway when he tries to make peace, as he did with Doug; and in the midst of performing his big scene on stage, he has an epiphany: he may not he able to turn the world back like Superman, but he's still empowered: "I could screw up or I could he amazing, and there's no turning back, no do-overs. It felt like flying." As she did so skillfully in Wonder, Vail enriches an accessible story with sharply observed characters, especially a likable protagonist who confronts the complicated task of growing up with humor, intelligence, and good will. 1992, Orchard, $14.95; PLB $14.99. Starred Review. © 1992 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
The star of this fresh and appealing slice of junior high school life, eighth grader Whitman Levy, appeared briefIy in Vail's first book, Wonder. Here Whit must work through some of life's thornier issues--including his parent's separation and the discovery that his best friend is a bigot. A brief and rather superficial romance with popular Sheila leaves Whit prepared for a real relationship--one based on friendship as well as attraction. That Whit's life is complicated no one will deny, but the breezy narrative, combined with large doses of authentic preteen jocularity, deftly keeps this material from devolving into a whiny problem novel. The honest language never seems out of place coming from an eighth grader--yet it is powerful enough to create a world as richly textured as it is believable. One measure of the success of Vail's well-characterized novel: readers can sense that life goes on here even after the book is closed. Ages 11-up. (Sept.)
Roger Sutton (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December 1992 (Vol. 46, No. 4))
Whitman Levy, who had a cameo role in Vail's terrific first novel Wonder (BCCB 9/91), seems always to be looking for a "do-over," a second chance, whether it's a disputed basketball point, a confrontation with his unhappy parents, or a conversation with a girl. Whit is going through a whole slew of eighth-grade troubles, including the offer of his first Drink: "Just Say No, I thought. Or Just Do It. Which? Don't think. Either just say no or just do it, but either way, don't think about it." He Just Does It, and soon after has his first French kiss, which is greeted with less than enthusiasm by girlfriend Sheila: "It was like a live fish in my mouth! Ew!" Vail catches all the sharp edges as well as all the blunt talk of junior high life; unlike Betsy Byars' Bingo Brown, Whit never seems filtered through the perceptions of a wiser adult. Vail's as nervy as Judy Blume, tossing off references to adolescent "stiffies," confronting junior-high racism, and facing the realities of divorce, including Whit's father's affair with one of Whit's teachers. When asked by his concerned dad if there is "anything he can do," Whit replies with anguished aplomb, "You can stop screwing the drama teacher, for one." But Vail is funnier than Blume, and more moving, partly because of her natural ear for teenaged talk and partly because she never, ever preaches. This is the real thing. R*--Highly recommended as a book of special distinction. (c) Copyright 1992, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1992, Jackson/Orchard, 143p, $14.99 and $14.95. Grades 5-8.
|Language||Call Number||LCCN||Dewey Decimal||ISBN/ISSN|
|English (eng)||PZ7.V1916 Do 1992
0531054608 : $14.95|
0531086100 (lib. bdg.)