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Stranded Hardcover – June 8, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061370827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061370823
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,497,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up–Narrated in Kelly Louise's often-breezy, 15-year-old voice, this story is set into motion when a newborn is found dead in a cornfield. Kelly Louise and her mother move to rural Heaven, IA, to support the teen's grandmother and her deeply religious, uncommonly beautiful cousin. Natalie, it turns out, is the mother of Baby Grace, though it is never clear why she chooses to confide in her aunt. The girls have little in common: as Kelly Louise texts her hip friend back in Des Moines, Natalie makes signs for her youth group vigil in memory of the infant. The tone of the story varies from funny (rule-bound Nana is described as “the old S.S. Unpack This Second”) to serious (a baby has died, after all) to descriptions of school events and musings on conservation and ecology. At times the story seems to absolve Natalie because someone took advantage of her and she blocked out the fact that she was pregnant, while at others she seems to be nursing a guilty conscience for breaking her virginity pledge. Equal in focus to the abandoned-baby story line is Kelly Louise's realistically portrayed relationship with a rock-band-wannabe neighbor and her loss of virginity while under the influence of pot. At the end of the novel, she sets into play events that lead to Natalie's arrest, although details are few as to how this affects Natalie or her family. Stranded might have readers where books such as Amy Efaw's After (Viking, 2009) have an audience.Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Kelly Marie's single mother has hurriedly moved the twosome from Des Moines to the small farming town of Heaven, Iowa, where the teen's grandmother lives. The move comes close on the heels of a scandal—someone in Heaven abandoned a newborn baby to die of exposure in a cornfield. No one suspects Kelly Marie's holier-than-thou cousin Natalie, whose own alcoholic mother left her to Nana's care before disappearing. But Natalie is indeed the baby's mother, a secret the family is keeping under tight wraps. Kelly Marie narrates the story in a high-strung, snarky voice, which becomes ever more tightly wound under the secret's pressure. Oddly, Kelly Marie's salvation comes from two unlikely sources: Kenny, a hostile loner who lives with his meth-dealing uncle in the wreck of a house next door, and the sincere, ineffectual school principal. Unfortunately, Natalie and the harsh and judgmental Nana sometimes approach caricature, and the novel's ending feels rushed. But teens drawn to calamitous, topical story lines will find plenty to feed their need here. Grades 8-10. --Karen Cruze

More About the Author

I grew up in Northwest Connecticut with four brothers in a house that besides us also had three cats and two dogs tearing through its rooms. At 17, I left home in search of adventure. I attended Skidmore College in Saratoga, New York, moved to Boston, Portland, Maine, New York City, Alaska, Minneapolis, Iowa City and finally settled in Northeast, Ohio with my husband Jeff. Together we are raising two amazing children, training a new dog and trying to keep the cat off the kitchen counters. I teach writing at Hiram College, and, when I can, I practice Iyengar yoga.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Compulsive Reader VINE VOICE on July 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Kelly Louise is not happy when her mother plucks her out of her city life in Des Moines and moves them to the tiny town of Heaven, Iowa to live with her judgmental grandmother and perfect cousin Natalie. Natalie relentlessly tattles on Kelly to their grandmother, and Kelly can't seem to make any friends in Heaven with the town's biggest drama on everyone's mind: the newborn infant abandoned in a cornfield. Kelly doesn't really care much about the tragedy, but she's about to find out that the baby has everything to do with their move, and will force her to make a decision that will change everything.

Stranded takes a very complex and tragic issue and looks at it from a different and unique perspective. Kelly Louise is a very different and interesting character who is bold and puts on a pretty fearless front, but can be a little grating in her search for attention and chafes at any form of restriction. She struggles with being seen as the "bad child" and with being compared with Natalie, who her grandmother considers perfect, an issue that adds plenty of drama to the novel. Dutton's characters are very multifaceted and layered, and no one is really as they appear at first, especially Kelly, Natalie, and boy-next-door Kenny Stockhausen, which just makes them all the more convincing. Dutton also does a very good job of playing out Kelly's confusion and frustration in the ways she acts out: setting things on fire, purposely upsetting her grandmother, and getting involved with Kenny. Though it may be hard for some readers to understand her, Kelly Louise is a fascinating character, and her narrative is never dull. Stranded is a sharp, thought-provoking book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lori Calabrese "Children's Books Examiner" VINE VOICE on November 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Kelly Louise has been transplanted by her single mom from Des Moines to the small farm town of Heaven, Iowa so they can live with her strict grandmother and her picture perfect cousin Natalie for a few months. Her mom refuses to tell her why and the only thing the people in Heaven want to talk about is the devastating news that a farmer found an infant in his cornfield.

In Stranded by J.T. Dutton, Kelly must adjust to an entirely different way of life where her grandmother labels everything Kelly wears as inappropriate and her holier-than-thou cousin Natalie is held to a different standard. But when her mom finally tells her the story of why they moved to Heaven, Kelly realizes her family is keeping a major secret under wraps--that Natalie was the one who gave birth to the baby and left her in a field where the farmer found her.

You'll get inside Kelly's head as she struggles with the truth and the pressure of this ever-looming secret. Although Kelly is a quirky character who is independent, feisty, and multi-layered, burying all of this leads her to find escape and lose her virginity with her troubled next door neighbor.

In the end, will Kelly do what's right or will she be the one who crumbles from the pressure?

Stranded is a thought provoking novel that will probably shock you as you discover the way this family handles such a tragedy. Racy at times, the book confronts plenty of stressful high school situations from smoking pot, losing your virginity, and drinking, but wraps it all up into an honest coming-of-age tale.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By flamingo1325 VINE VOICE on June 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Definable, sprightly characters, a blend of serious and humorous, and a strong setting are the most notable aspects of Stranded. The drastic changes Kelly Louise is suddenly pushed into provide a driving force for both the plot and development with her own character, and the overall way things play out runs smoothly. A great YA voice that brings life to Kelly Louise while still being something likable for a range of readers also embolden this book.

Kelly Louise is as unique as her name, a city girl pushed into a country setting with a very strict, religious grandmother and cousin. Her love and obsession with boys provides a great contrast to Natalie's uptight ways and the trouble she often finds herself in comes off primarily as comical because of the situation. Given the heavily religious nature of her grandma and cousin, as well as the constant Christian tones of the town, Kelly Louise's determination to lose her virginity adds another bit of flare to the story overall. The reason she ends up moving to Heaven comes out pretty early on and is one more thing she has to deal with. Her views on the situation bring out her character strongly, as do her interactions with her peers. There is a noticeable difference between her and her peers as she finds herself in uncomfortable situations and dealing with an unexpected inability to fit in and find friends.

Natalie is an interesting character, a girl with a woman's body but lacking such a mature mindset. After finding herself in a bad situation, she tries to set things right and move forward. Her battles against Kelly Louise provide tension as well as humor, competition bred both of out the situation and being the same age but having very different childhoods.
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Format: Hardcover
Kelly Louise is forced to move away from her friends and fabulous life in Des Moines temporarily, according to her mother, to go live with her grandmother and her completely perfect cousin, Natalie. She doesn't really know why they're moving to Heaven, Iowa. Her mom might have gotten behind on the rent or gotten sick of the job she always complains about.

Nothing big, or so Kelly Louise believes. If anything, she'll simply die of boredom.

However, Heaven will not live up to its namesake. Shortly before Kelly Louise moves there, a scandal had broken out. A baby was abandoned in a cornfield. The baby is dead, and no one knows to whom it belongs. Who could leave a babe, hours old, alone in a field? What kind of person could do that?

A secret that big can't stay hidden forever, and soon Kelly Louise will long for the days when her largest problem was simply trying to fit in at school.

The mystery in STRANDED is by far the best part of the book. There are so many possible scenarios this book could follow, and I found myself continually guessing which path the story would take. The characters are multi-layered and are all more, or less, than what they appear on the surface.

Although a sudden change of tone in the final chapters of the book will take a little getting used to, overall, STRANDED is an intriguing book that follows Kelly Louise's journey of learning how to cope when everything you know changes.

Reviewed by: Melanie Foust
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