From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9–The author of the popular All Alone in the Universe
(HarperCollins, 1999) returns with another character study involving those moments that occur in everyone's life–moments when a decision is made that sends a person along one path instead of another. Debbie, who wishes that something would happen so she'll be a different person, and Hector, who feels he is unfinished, narrate most of the novel. Both are 14 years old. Hector is a fabulous character with a wry humor and an appealing sense of self-awareness. A secondary story involving Debbie's locket that goes missing in the beginning of the tale and is passed around by a number of characters emphasizes the theme of the book. The descriptive, measured writing includes poems, prose, haiku, and question-and-answer formats. There is a great deal of humor in this gentle story about a group of childhood friends facing the crossroads of life and how they wish to live it. Young teens will certainly relate to the self-consciousnesses and uncertainty of all of the characters, each of whom is straining toward clarity and awareness. The book is profusely illustrated with Perkins's amusing drawings and some photographs.–B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY
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*Starred Review* Gr. 6-9. This lyrical sequel to All Alone in
the Universe (1999), a Booklist
Editor's Choice, begins with one of many black-and-white drawings and a caption that reads, "People move back and forth in this area like molecules in steam." As the title and caption imply, this story reads like a series of intersecting vignettes--all focused on 14-year-old Debbie and her friends as they leave childhood behind. Perkins writes with subtle, wry humor about perceptive moments that will speak directly to readers: universe-expanding crushes, which fill the world with "signs and wonder"; scornful reappraisals of childhood things (Debbie's disdain for Nancy Drew is particularly funny); urgent concerns about outfits, snappy retorts, and self-image. Perkins adds many experimental passages to her straightforward narrative, and she finds poetry in the common exchanges between teens. One section of dialogue, written entirely in haiku, reads, "Jeff White is handsome, / but his hair is so greasy. / If he would wash it--." A few cultural references set the book in the 1970s, but most readers will find their contemporaries in these characters. Best of all are the understated moments, often private and piercing in their authenticity, that capture intelligent, likable teens searching for signs of who they are, and who they'll become. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved