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A Room on Lorelei Street (Golden Kite Awards) Hardcover – May 12, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up–When Zoe's teacher mispronounces her name on the first day of class, the 17-year-old explodes. To teachers and administrators, she is just another rebellious teenager. Not even her friends know or understand the depth of her emotional stress. Caring for an alcoholic mother, dealing with an overbearing grandmother, going to school, and working to make ends meet all collide and Zoe finally walks out. She finds solace in a small rented room on Lorelei Street and discovers a new friend in Opal, her eccentric elderly landlord. Throughout the novel, Zoe struggles with her feelings for Mama, which swing from hatred to guilt to longing; thoughts about her father, whose accidental death may have been suicide; and her need for attention, which has resulted in numerous sexual relationships. Unable to make enough money at her waitressing job to pay the rent, Zoe finds that she will do anything–no matter how self-destructive–to keep her safe haven. For her, the rented room represents an escape from an impossible situation, a break from suffocating family bonds that gives her the impetus to start a new life. The third-person narration is at times lyrical, vividly expressing the teen's feelings and motivations. This book is a good read and the message--while powerful--is not overpowering.–Sharon Morrison, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 9-12. Seventeen-year-old Zoe feels alone and neglected by her family; she has become the caretaker for her alcoholic mother. Since she feels alone, she wants to be alone, abdicating all responsibility for anyone other than herself. She rents a room in an old house on Lorelei Street, a neighborhood as charming as her landlady, Opal. Her waitress job at Murray's and Opal's generosity hold promise for her survival on her own, but Zoe can't seem to overcome her penchant for bad academic and economic decisions, choosing inappropriate comments to a teacher over stoicism, and cigarettes over food and gas for the car. Ultimately, survival wins, but not without incredible pain inflicted on Zoe, her family, and her friends. Pearson paints a compelling portrait of a teen, easily recognizable to most YAs, who is simultaneously intent on survival and self-sabotage. Frances Bradburn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Golden Kite Awards
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (June 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805076670
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805076677
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,224,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary E. Pearson is the author of several award winning books for teens, including the best-selling Jenna Fox Chronicles. She is a native Southern Californian and writes full time from her home in Carlsbad, California where she lives with her family.

Her awards and honors include the Golden Kite Award, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, the Andre Norton Honor, and The South Carolina Young Adult Book Award.

Her newest series, The Remnant Chronicles, kicks off with THE KISS OF DECEPTION, the first in a trilogy about a defiant princess living in the ruins of a bygone world.

Her website, www.marypearson.com has more information about Mary and her books.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Little Willow on July 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A Room on Lorelai Street is a story of a young woman trying to make it from one day to the next and attempting to rise above her less-than-stellar unbringing.

Zoe once had a family consisting of a mother, a father, a younger brother and herself. By the time she was a teenager, everything had fallen apart. Her father died. Her mother turned to alcohol. Her brother was sent away to live with relatives, but Zoe had to stay, for the sake of her mother - and her overbearing grandmother.

Zoe finds a small house on Lorelai Street with a room to rent. It is owned by a kind elderly woman, and the rent is cheap, something she can afford on her salary as an afterschool waitress. She is at first hesitant to move out of her home, but when her mother does one more thing - the straw that broke the camel's back - Zoe gets out of there.

What makes protagonist Zoe remarkable is that she does not lament her childhood nor blame others. She never whines about her situation. She never drowns in self-pity. She is a likable, fallible character.

Set in modern-day and written in present tense, A Room on Lorelai Street is something which can be read cover-to-cover in one sitting. Not only that, but this book should appeal to teenagers and adults alike, reading it with different perspectives.

Anyone who has ever struggled to make ends meet, no matter what his or her age or situation, will appreciate the numbers Zoe has to crunch, the sacrifices she has to make, and the consequences she must face. Congratulations to Mary Pearson on creating a character with heart and writing a book that will stick with readers years after they have finished it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Robinson on July 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mary E. Pearson's A Room on Lorelei Street is gripping and well-written, a bleak story with streaks of hope. A Room on Lorelei Street is the story of Zoe, a 17-year-old girl burdened by a difficult family. Her father is dead, under somewhat mysterious circumstances, and her mother pretty much lives inside the bottle. Her beloved younger brother has been sent away to live with a more stable aunt and uncle, who have no room for Zoe, while Zoe is left to care for her irresponsible and needy mother.

One day Zoe sees a sign advertising a room for rent in a gracious home on Lorelei Street. She is unable to resist the lure of getting away from her mother, and of being in a place that's all her own, clean and quiet and safe. She rents the room (more of a studio apartment) from the quirky but kind Opal, and finds it everything she has dreamed of. However the ties of family and guilt are not so easy to break, and Zoe struggles with continuing demands from her family. She also struggles financially, not really able to afford living on her own while working part time while attending high school. But she's not willing to go back, either.

This book made me think about all of the things that I took for granted growing up: clean clothes, abundant food, parents to attend any plays or recitals that I was in, siblings who lived in the same house. Zoe is painfully in need of someone to care about her, to put her needs first, to be what family is supposed to be. When Opal attends one of her tennis matches and cheers for her, it brings tears to Zoe's eyes. She considers it the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for her. How sad is that? How many kids are there who have no one to care about them?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on August 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Secrets can hurt, and Zoe Beth Buckman and her family have way too many of them.

When Zoe's father died, her family fell apart. Her little brother, more hers than either of her parents', was sent to live with her aunt and uncle. Now, her mother drinks too much and doesn't go to work when she says she will. Zoe, straining from the effort of keeping the household together and waitressing to make ends meet, acts out in class. She realizes, though the decision is anything but easy, that she must have a room of her own if she wants to regain control of her life.

The answer to her needs comes in the form of a room at 373 Lorelei Street. Opal Keats, in order to make ends meet and pay her taxes, rents a room to Zoe. In Opal, Zoe finds an ally, someone who has seen much of the past but always looks to the future. Zoe swears she'll never return to her mother's house and the life she left. But when expenses are high and her only income comes from waitressing at a diner, she knows she might have to go to an extreme or two in order to keep her room.

With strength, resolve, and a little help from an old woman with a big dog, Zoe tackles her problems one by one. Even though there are no happy endings, Zoe is able to overcome her family's troubles as well as her own, and the reader can feel all of her frustration, love, sadness and determination.

--- Reviewed by Carlie Webber
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mimi Woodbridge on October 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
No wonder this young adult novel by Mary Pearson was honored with SCBWI's prestigious Golden Kite. You're drawn to Zoe from her first inappropriate outburst in English class, then amazed by her resilience as you're swept deeper and deeper into her story. The characters could be people you know--their quirks, their messy personalities, their coping mechanisms. You want to reach into the pages and give this gritty girl some gasoline money. With an eye for detail, Pearson pulls many threads through this teen survival story--keep an eye on the bulldog! Clever, whole, moving. Makes any reader yearn for a room on Lorelei with a landlady like Opal.
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