Grade 8 Up—Set in 1960s Falls of Rough, KY, this story chronicles the heartbreak of 11-year-old Sassy Thompkins. Desperate for romance à la her trashy magazine Love Confessions, Sassy chases after local bad boy Boon Chisholm, ignoring signs that her older sister, Lula, may be Boon's target. Sassy and Lula uncover Boon's philandering ways as they discover that their mother, believed dead, actually fled to California after frequent extramarital affairs. Disturbing is the best word for this novel. All stereotypes about Kentucky weddings aside, having Sassy's father call her a "tart" and no better than her mother creates a jarring picture of developing femininity for readers of Sassy's age. Sassy and her sister are violent, selfish, and barely likable, and the family forgiveness scene at the end of the novel can't be believed, given the characters' former antagonisms. Sidebars at the beginning of each chapter, presumably from Sassy's magazines, give advice that shows women to be scheming and empty headed. "Keep him guessing and never tell him what you're really feeling. That's how to snag a man." The kicker comes when Boon faces Sassy and says, "You're one hell of a kisser….I'm just not attracted to you." The plot hinges on clichéd depictions of girls, deleterious to readers of any age. Better books for love-swept readers include Carol Lynch Williams's My Angelica and Mavis Jukes's Cinderella 2000 (both Delacorte, 1999).—Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* "He would walk right in the door, take her in his arms, and tell her he loved her and couldn't live one more second without her." Motherless Stasy, 11, has a crush on gorgeous Boon. She dreams that he wants to kiss her, and she's angry that he's really kissing her mean, magazine-pretty older sister, Lula. With Mama dead and Daddy preoccupied with his small tobacco plot in 1960s Kentucky, Stasy has no one to talk to, except the kind housekeeper, who lectures her about acting like a nice young lady. It's not sex Stasy needs to know about (everyone learned about that in health class). She wants to know how to handle falling in love, so she turns to the Love Confessions magazines she sneaks home from Methodist church camp, which are filled with dreamy quotes about flowers and candlelight. The story is laugh-out-loud funny, but it is also a timeless tale of anger, grief, and love, with surprising twists in plot and character that will break your heart. The sisters' realistic relationship challenges formula. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Helen Hemphill's RUNAROUND is the story of a girl trying to find her way to the world of adulthood. She doesn't have much help: her father is apparently grieving the death of his... Read morePublished on November 15, 2007 by Tracy Barrett
Not since Carson McCullers MEMBER OF THE WEDDING, have I read a book that so accurately portrays that foggy zone between childhood and adolescence as well as Helen Hemphill's... Read morePublished on September 6, 2007 by Nancy Drew