From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up–Claudine Carbonneau, a high-school senior in Deep Cove, ME, wakes up to find her alcoholic mother gone, leaving the teen to clean up their trashed home and to explain her mother's absence. As Claude attempts to carry on alone, it becomes apparent that readers aren't getting all the details of the night of the woman's disappearance, and that Claude is, in fact, an unreliable and unstable narrator. She tells her support group and her best friend, also the child of an alcoholic, that her mother has willingly checked into a rehab facility and convinces herself that this is true. She also displays increasingly advanced obsessive-compulsive tendencies as she attempts to order her life. Details of the mother-daughter relationship are revealed in awkwardly placed flashbacks, interior monologues, and letters; as a result, readers are effectively told, rather than shown, the key elements that would lead them to care about the protagonist. MacCready attempts to construct a layered, psychological mystery, building to a dramatic final scene in which truths are both literally and figuratively unearthed. Unfortunately, this first novel suffers from clumsy pacing, clichéd symbolism, and a preachy message about the need for children of alcoholics to accept their parents' role in their own recovery. The shocking final scene is overly dramatic and unsatisfying, and Claude's realizations about herself and her mother are not believable.–Riva Pollard, The Winsor School Library, Boston
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High-school senior Claudine looks after her alcoholic mother in their decrepit trailer on the coast of Maine. She cleans up her vomit, washes her clothes, and takes on the role of parent in their family of two. When her mother disappears, as she frequently does on binges or with a new boyfriend, Claudine is at first relieved to have the house to herself, and she tells everyone that her mother is in rehab. She worries about her mother, too. Claudine is both immensely competent and obsessive-compulsive, scrubbing her hands to the point of damage and engaging in counting rituals. Although she attends a support group and has a caring best friend, teachers, and school counselors to turn to, she is clearly coming apart. MacCready spins a tantalizingly creepy web of Claudine's disintegration, told through letters to her absent mother, dream sequences, and flashbacks. The shocking but wholly believable climax is a moving ending to this cautionary, empathetic story of codependency. For another book about a teen raising herself, suggest Ron Koertge's Margaux with an X
(2004). Debbie CartonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved