Emily, 14, last seen in Rubin's Emily Good as Gold (1993), has fallen in love with a ``regular'' boy named Hunt, and is afraid that he'll find out she's ``different''—retarded. Her friend, Molly, reports that boys like girls who are honest and sincere, but it's hard for Emily, in her first year in a mainstream school, to tell the truth to someone who smiles at her the way Hunt does. Molly's route to ``normal'' is by reading Seventeen faithfully, putting together the right clothes and makeup, and holding her and Emily's first boy-girl party. When it backfires, Emily's feelings get hurt, but other problems are mounting, too: She has to juggle a job and a date with Hunt, and suffers new worries about her brother and sister-in-law's move, old worries about standing up to her overprotective parents, and guilt that she has treated another special student, Donny, as meanly as others have treated her. Rubin gets inside Emily, allowing readers to see things through her eyes, and, in the first-person narration, to grasp her frustration at being slow. Emily may be somewhat literal-minded, but she's bristling with spunk. A surprisingly sweet, unusual story of first love. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-200961-2

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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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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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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