FAIR WEATHER

Into the quiet, routinized farm life of 14-year-old Rosie, older sister Lottie, and younger brother Buster comes a letter from Aunt Euterpe in Chicago, inviting them to the 1893 World’s Fair. What ensues is a comic romp as the siblings and their scoundrelly Granddad descend on the World’s Fair, going from the pavilions of the White City to the Midway (in Aunt Euterpe’s words, “a sinkhole of corruption”). The story has a split personality of sorts: at the start, it shows every sign of being a coming-of-ager, with Rosie and Lottie both poised to advance into womanhood. When the party arrives in Chicago, however, the oversized character of Granddad hijacks the narrative. The plot devolves into a sitcom—the major players being the happily unrefined Granddad and Aunt Euterpe (a wannabe member of the gentry who is in perpetual mourning for her dead husband), and, of course, the World’s Fair itself. When he restrains himself, Peck (A Year Down Yonder, 2000, etc.) is a master of evocative prose (“White electricity had lit the world and erased the stars . . . It was Greece and Rome again, and every column and curlicue lit by an incandescent bulb”). And if he goes over the top (both Buffalo Bill and Lillian Russell make wildly unlikely cameo appearances), he does it here with a contagious sense of exuberance. Not up to its promise, but good fun nonetheless. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2516-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

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

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THE LOUD SILENCE OF FRANCINE GREEN

It’s 1949, and 13-year-old Francine Green lives in “the land of ‘Sit down, Francine’ and ‘Be quiet, Francine’ ” at All Saints School for Girls in Los Angeles. When she meets Sophie Bowman and her father, she’s encouraged to think about issues in the news: the atomic bomb, peace, communism and blacklisting. This is not a story about the McCarthy era so much as one about how one girl—who has been trained to be quiet and obedient by her school, family, church and culture—learns to speak up for herself. Cushman offers a fine sense of the times with such cultural references as President Truman, Hopalong Cassidy, Montgomery Clift, Lucky Strike, “duck and cover” and the Iron Curtain. The dialogue is sharp, carrying a good part of this story of friends and foes, guilt and courage—a story that ought to send readers off to find out more about McCarthy, his witch-hunt and the First Amendment. Though not a happily-ever-after tale, it dramatizes how one person can stand up to unfairness, be it in front of Senate hearings or in the classroom. (author’s note) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-50455-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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