From School Library Journal
Grade 10 Up-Running away from her latest foster home, 17-year-old Del begins her new life trapped in traffic on a Los Angeles freeway, gathering the experiences that will fuel her successful later life as Elena Franco, playwright and performance artist. When a serious accident turns the Santa Monica freeway into a virtual parking lot, Del whiles away her time, cleaning her new old car, watching the people around her, wandering off in search of food and a bathroom, and finally participating in an impromptu talent show. Interspersed with these mundane activities are scenes from Elena's monologues written eight years later and presented in italics and a description of an out-of-body experience she had in a similar traffic jam in which she flies over the traffic carefully observing the people around her. Her intriguing character sketches include an insurance agent attempting to get on with his work in spite of the baby in back, a boy with a stolen '51 Hudson Hornet that attracts everyone's attention, and a pair of drain cleaners who see a golden opportunity to pick up women. Through Elena, readers learn that Del successfully broke away not only from the traffic jam but also from her old life, and has made a living and a family of her own. Del is a believable teen, poised on the edge of something new but not quite yet sure where her talents will take her. Fleischman's artful structure, distinctive voices, and carefully chosen details make this a splendid choice for teens on the verge of a breakout of their own.Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 9-12. Seventeen-year-old Del, a perpetual foster child, is breaking out. A rusting Datsun is taking her out of town, but it's the traffic jam on the freeway that gives her the time to frame a new life. Amplifying this structure are two concurrent narratives: Del's interior monologue as she worries, rages, and waits for the logjam to break, and a narrative taking place eight years in the future, as Del, a playwright now calling herself Elena, performs her one-woman show about being caught in freeway traffic. Del is a sharp observer, and the jam-up allows her to notice the people around her: a father trying to sell insurance and care for a baby at the same time; a guy tutoring a younger man in the art of picking up women, who mistakenly tries his tactics on a lesbian. Elena's narrative, less specific and more wide-ranging, reveals some of the decisions that she made to get to where she is. This artful, insightful work makes demands on its readers, but teenagers will find the rewards very much worth the effort. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved