One moment 14-year-old Sarabeth Silver's life is all her own, quirky mom and all. The next minute, she's spinning out of control, her mother dead of a heart attack at 30, family friends debating who should take her in, her home rented to another family, her stuff in storage. And Sarabeth herself changes. She becomes jagged, cynical. Her funny, loyal friends stand by her side, but nothing is the same anymore. The loss of her mother, conversations with her new friend James, and her uncomfortable living situation with her mom's best friend, her husband, and their baby--in a one-bedroom apartment--inspire Sarabeth to embark (with great trepidation) on a journey to trace her mysterious roots. The town where her parents grew up--and were later shunned--reveals some very unexpected secrets that ultimately provide the starting place for Sarabeth's healing.
Continuing the story of Sarabeth begun in Silver, award-winning novelist Norma Fox Mazer plumbs the depths of adolescent souls. Girlhearts unflinchingly explores the unthinkable, refusing to drift into sentimentality or easy fixes. Mazer's keen eye for what is important makes her one of the finest, most tuned-in young-adult authors around. She is also the author of the Newbery Honor Book, After the Rain and many other fine titles for older readers. (Ages 12 to 16) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
Exploring the aftermath of a family tragedy, this contemporary problem novel provides the intense psychological drama Mazer fans crave, but lacks the suspenseful edge of her After the Rain and Out of Control. The opening chapters will instantly command readers' sympathy and rapt attention, as narrator Sarabeth describes her young, widowed mother's heart attack and subsequent death. The pace slows considerably after the initial crisis has passed and the author focuses on the 13-year-old's misery. With Sarabeth's vision blurred by grief, readers will need patience to develop a clear sense of the minor characters, among them Sarabeth's loyal girlfriends, her new friend James and the adults who decide her future. As Sarabeth is placed in the overcrowded home of her mother's best friend and assigned a social worker, Mazer conveys the heroine's feelings of shock, numbness, loneliness and powerlessness with her usual authenticity. But there are few surprises here; from the moment Sarabeth explains that her parents were essentially disowned by their families, most readers will anticipate that an encounter with these previously unmet relatives will spur Sarabeth's emotional recovery. The strength of this novel lies in its intimate recognition of the way adolescents think and feel. Ages 10-up.
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