Shy, quiet Elizabeth likes whole-wheat doughnuts, but her best friend, Tara*Starr, likes custard ones with vanilla icing and multicolored sprinkles. When Tara*Starr pictures the two of them together as old ladies, Elizabeth is knitting, and she is sewing sequins and beads on everything! Despite their differences, the two seventh-grade girls are inseparable--until Tara*Starr moves away, spurring the warm, winning correspondence that scampers across the pages of Paula Danziger and Ann M. Martin's P.S. Longer Letter Later: A Novel in Letters
Elizabeth and Tara*Starr's junior high school world is one of corny jokes, words like "gazillion," and awkward moments (a New Year's Eve kiss happens at 12:08, and "it was sort of gross because the Chee-to in his mouth ended up in my mouth"), but it's also a world where both girls are dealing with their evolving--and sometimes derailing--families. Danziger (writing Tara*Starr's letters) and Martin (writing Elizabeth's letters) are friends in real life, and both have done a masterful job of creating the distinct, realistic, endearing voices of their characters; developing a profound, emotional, and ever-changing relationship between two young girls; and crafting a page- turning story to boot. Young readers--half-laughing, half with lump in throat--will "totally relate" to this feisty pair! (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson
From Publishers Weekly
If Danziger and Martin had been childhood pen pals, their correspondence might have read much like this strikingly insightful epistolary novel. Each known for a finely tuned ear to her audience, the venerable authors here do a splendid job of creating a story based on the letters exchanged between 12-year-old best friends, one of whom has just moved to another state. The authors' distinctive voices give the collaboration a rare spontaneity and realism. Impulsive, outgoing Tara*Starr streaks her hair purple, can't resist a pun, pens an irreverent column for her school paper and fancies creme-filled, frosted doughnuts with sprinkles. The whole-wheat variety is the doughnut of choice for quiet, thoughtful Elizabeth, who enjoys cross-stitching, launches a poetry journal at school and isn't quite ready to pierce her ears. Tara's life, which had been chaotic prior to her move, hits some unanticipated twists: her mother and father?who had Tara at 17?begin acting like parents for the first time (taking steady jobs, setting rules around the house) and her mother becomes pregnant. Elizabeth, meanwhile, whose life was quite predictable and steady, faces cataclysmic change when her spendthrift father loses his job, struggles with alcohol and abandons his wife and daughters. Her crises spawn some moving passages, including her response to Tara's ironic complaints that her life is "a shambles" because snow postponed the school play; "It better turn around soon," writes Elizabeth, "Your life is the only good one I have." Readers will also readily identify with Tara's confessions of inadequacy about how to console Elizabeth (e.g., "Zounds! Zounds! Zounds!/ A million times Zounds!/ I don't know what to say. Your news is soooooooo awful!"). Even when the girls argue and the time between letters grows, readers can appreciate what goes into the erosion and rebuilding of friendship. Given Danziger's and Martin's penchant for continuing story lines, readers can only hope that this will be an ongoing correspondence. Ages 10-13.
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