THIRTEEN

Picking up the last quarter of seventh grade with her milestone birthday, Winnie Perry (Eleven, 2004; Twelve, 2007) enters the eighth grade saddled comfortably between her two BFFs Dinah and Cinnamon. It is a year of firsts for Winnie—first kiss, first real boyfriend, first exposure to someone else’s serious childhood illness, first boy-girl party, first break-up. Myracle’s diary-style, monthly narrative continues to juggle the early-adolescent psyche against the realities of some of life’s more difficult moments. Winnie’s experience with cancer (her little brother’s friend, Joseph, has leukemia) provides a certain perspective to the problems and personal hurts she faces in her daily teenage angst. More importantly, her middle-child status within a loving and well-adjusted family places her in a position of emotional strength for a little brother and admiration for an older sister’s advice. The ups and downs of this typical early teen are well-drawn and realistically portrayed, touching on good and bad values. As in life, the year closes with a new beginning. Fans will eagerly await the next wholesome installment. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-525-47896-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM--1963

Curtis debuts with a ten-year-old's lively account of his teenaged brother's ups and downs. Ken tries to make brother Byron out to be a real juvenile delinquent, but he comes across as more of a comic figure: getting stuck to the car when he kisses his image in a frozen side mirror, terrorized by his mother when she catches him playing with matches in the bathroom, earning a shaved head by coming home with a conk. In between, he defends Ken from a bully and buries a bird he kills by accident. Nonetheless, his parents decide that only a long stay with tough Grandma Sands will turn him around, so they all motor from Michigan to Alabama, arriving in time to witness the infamous September bombing of a Sunday school. Ken is funny and intelligent, but he gives readers a clearer sense of Byron's character than his own and seems strangely unaffected by his isolation and harassment (for his odd look—he has a lazy eye—and high reading level) at school. Curtis tries to shoehorn in more characters and subplots than the story will comfortably bear—as do many first novelists—but he creates a well-knit family and a narrator with a distinct, believable voice. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-385-32175-9

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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THE BIG GAME OF EVERYTHING

Twelve-year-old Onion Jock’s grandfather made a fortune inventing a golf-course–cleaning contraption and now runs his own 13-hole course, his barber father rebels against the system by discouraging haircuts and his brother is a finance-obsessed pugilist. When well-monied individuals from Grampus’s past arrive, Jock realizes that his odd family relationships are more twisted than he thought. With little more than a brogue pronunciation as a clue, readers are left to guess at Jock’s geographical location, which creates a rarely bridged emotional gap. Jock’s narrative disposition is reminiscent of Christopher from Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (2003), but Jock’s own behavioral discrepancies have no apparent underlying causes. Moments of genuine humor shine, but most of the tale’s message—of the burden of possessions—seems better suited for a younger audience than the one it apparently aims for. Andi Watson’s Clubbing (2007) blends oddball humor and golf much more successfully. This uneven mixture of relationships and sports is a bogey for the usually reliable Lynch. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-074034-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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