From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up–Sally Jo Walker, known as Jody, is a 16-year-old runaway bride of 13 weeks who finds herself on her own with $20 in her pocket and nowhere to go. If Bobby James hadn't hit her, she wouldn't be holed up in a gas-station bathroom. She uses the time to write a letter on paper towels to the corporate head of the Harris Teeter food-store chain with a suggestion on how to improve his inferior coleslaw. This literary device is a bit confusing, as Hobbs drops it early on and doesn't pick it up again until this improbable coming-of-age tale ends. The first-person exposition is frank and endearing, and Jody is apparently wiser than many people twice her age as she struggles to survive in a strange town. She is resourceful and likable and the novel is peopled with the downtrodden, both with hearts of gold and flint. The teen's determination makes the adults around her seem foolish and lost. Despite the title, Bobby James plays a minor role, and when he reappears on the scene readers may be hard-pressed to believe Jody is so susceptible to his questionable charm–yet it is then that she reacts as the average 16-year-old might. This story suffers from too many implausible events, but this feisty character has considerable appeal.–Roxanne Myers Spencer, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 9-12. Worlds away from The Au Pairs
(see del la Cruz, on p.1831) is this story, related by 16-year-old Jody, who is abandoned in Florida by her young husband after he has punched her. With few prospects and less money, Jody manages to find a job at Thelma's Cafe and, over time, a family of sorts as well. There are familiar overtones--everything from Terrence McNally's play Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune
to the old TV show Alice--
and stock characters, including the waitress with a heart of gold and the runaway (pregnant) teen who frequents the diner. But what might have been only a retread comes sparklingly to life in Hobbs' hands. The first-person narrative, which deftly chronicles what can happen to a girl who takes a chance (including being a midwife in the bathroom of a movie theater during a tornado), also shines with Jody's simple, but never simplistic, insights. The framework of the novel (Jody writes all this to the head of a grocery store chain) doesn't really work, but almost everything else does--big time. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved