From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—Calma Harrison, 16, is a bright, eccentric loner who loves English lit and brightly colored eyeglasses. Her only friend is Vanessa, a hippie so mellow she's nearly in a coma. Calma and her mother communicate via notes on the refrigerator. Then, her long-absent father appears in their tropical Australian town, desperate to speak to her, and her mother starts sneaking around at night, causing Calma to fear that her parents may be dating. When Vanessa becomes even more withdrawn and Calma notices cuts and scratches on her friend's body, she starts sleuthing. For the first quarter of the book, Jonsberg lays the teenage sarcasm on so thickly it backfires, and Calma, despite her raw language, sounds cutesy instead of edgy. Fortunately, she's more and more engaging as the plot progresses, and her depth and sincerity become obvious. Moreover, her jaunty narration creates a farcical mood that keeps the increasingly heavy subject matter from descending into melodrama. The supporting characters are drawn in broad strokes and seem present just to people the novel's abundant, and sometimes extraneous, subplots. Calma's sweet courtship with Jason, a gorgeous, disarming soccer freak, is an exception, but, with so many plot threads to weave together, the author leaves their relationship unexplored.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
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Sixteen-year-old Calma Harrison knows that her dad is a jerk who left her and her mother years ago. She knows her friend Vanessa is being abused at home. She knows her mother is skipping work to see someone new. She also knows that she needs a job at Crazy Cheep, the marginal neighborhood grocery story, because the deliciously gorgeous Jason works there. All this definitive knowledge is agonizing and occasionally hilarious for Calma as she tries to solve everyone else's problems, conquer her own impulsiveness, and accept her life. Jonsberg employs quirky narrative formats, which include notes left on the refrigerator, movie-script dialogue, and Calma's straightforward narration. The book's greatest strength is its deftly drawn characters. Cameo appearances by an English teacher, who recognizes Calma's writing talent, are bright spots, even if they don't add much to the actual story line. YA readers will be attracted to the humor, which occasionally takes on a slapstick nature, as well as the mystery and drama constantly surrounding Calma's life. Frances BradburnCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved