Most helpful positive review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Sharp insightful glimpses into the tumultuous lives of teens
on October 22, 2004
Nothing is what it seems because there are secrets to keep. Margaux, by far the best-looking girl in her class, smart and witty, knows this "secret stuff" at an early age. She and her father share a dark secret. Her father is good-looking and funny, but is always the con artist and spends his life gambling --- sometimes he wins, sometimes he doesn't. Then there is her mother, locked in her own world of TV shopping, getting her nails done, and sharing her husband's excitement at the racetracks. So while Margaux makes the good grades, dates one boy after another and hangs out with her shallow friends, she is lonelier and angrier than anyone could ever know.
Danny Riley is a walking resale shop. His clothes are too big; he has a plain face and a manner about him that says he just doesn't care what other people think. Danny has his secrets too --- the father who beat him, the aunt who saved him (he hopes) and the devotion to the humane society where he volunteers. Danny is not considered "cool" by his peers and is, in fact, an outsider simply by the way he dresses.
Like Ron Koertge's STONER & SPAZ, Danny and Margaux are a little oil and water. They come together with an unexpected attraction, which at first totally confuses Margaux:
"...Margaux looks for Danny/is afraid he's looking for her/wants to see him/wants to avoid him/wonders why he hasn't sought her out/is afraid he will. Really, what can she be thinking; that uncomely face, the spindle-shanked meagerness of him, the teakettle thinness of his breath. His daunting goodness."
As the relationship develops, Margaux meets Danny's aunt Evie, who suffers from debilitating MS. Margaux also meets the darker Danny --- the Danny who is his father. But out of the chaos in both of their lives, they are pulled together and Margaux does not run from the opportunity to learn from Danny and his wise aunt.
Koertge is a master at exploring teens on the edge. Like Paulsen, Cormier and Brooks, Koertge gives us sharp, insightful glimpses into some darker aspects of adolescents and their lives. Teens will be attracted to these unusual characters and a well-paced story.
--- Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts (firstname.lastname@example.org)