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Unfinished Portrait of Jessica Hardcover – October 1, 1991

4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After her father leaves the family, Jessica becomes numb and resentful. She scorns her mother and longs for the company of her father. At Christmas, Jessica's dream seems to come true: she is sent to Mexico to visit her father. Once there, Jessica must come to terms with the truth about her unreliable yet charismatic parent. She also admits that her mother is not the drab washout she believes her to be, but is in fact a well-known romance novelist. The ease and assurance with which Peck describes the particulars of Jessica's life make her a convicing and sympathetic protagonist. There are moments when the plot seems a bit pat--such as Jessica's discovery that her favorite escapist reading was written by her mother. For the most part, however, Peck--known for his sensitive portrayals of teenagers and their concerns--succeeds in charting the bittersweet journey from a childhood filled with wishful thinking to a more clearsighted adulthood. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-10-- Jessica idolizes her handsome, photographer father, and is devastated by her parents' divorce. Blaming her mother entirely, she hides in her room--until a holiday visit with her father in Mexico forces her to see the situation more clearly. The story itself does not hold many surprises. Jessica quickly discovers that her father's boyishness is really immaturity, and that his easy charm often disguises his lack of responsibility. She finds that her mother's career as a writer is not as boring as she imagines, and that her mother is the parent upon whom she can rely. Peck's writing, however, makes this novel worth reading. In Acapulco, Jessica and her father stay with his uncle, Lucius Pirie, a famous artist. The description of Mexico and Pirie's works are richly textured. The presence of an art student as another guest gives Peck the opportunity to discuss several art terms and techniques. The characters are also exceptionally well drawn; Jessica as evolving, still unfinished, but with a great deal of potential; and her parents, first as she sees them, then as they really are. Peck employs a somber tone in this quiet, internal story, very different from the lightly suspenseful one he uses in Voices After Midnight (Delacorte, 1989). While this may not be his most exciting work, it is well crafted and intellectually satisfying. --Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, County of Henrico Public Library--Fairfield Area Lib . , Richmond, VA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 162 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (October 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385305001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385305006
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,036,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Peck has written over twenty novels, and in the process has become one of America's most highly respected writers for young adults. A versatile writer, he is beloved by middle graders as well as young adults for his mysteries and coming-of-age novels. He now lives in New York City. In addition to writing, he spends a great deal of time traveling around the country attending speaking engagements at conferences, schools and libraries...Mr. Peck has won a number of major awards for the body of his work, including the Margaret A. Edwards Award from School Library Journal, the National Council of Teachers of English/ALAN Award, and the 1991 Medallion from the University of Southern Mississippi. Virtually every publication and association in the field of children s literature has recommended his books, including Mystery Writers of America which twice gave him their Edgar Allan Poe Award. Dial Books for Young Readers is honored to welcome Richard Peck to its list with Lost in Cyberspace and its sequel The Great Interactive Dream Machine...

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By CRC on January 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read this book about 5 years ago in middle school. This book stands out in my mind more than any other. I just loved it. The characters were carefree, open, almost mystical. The exotic setting was fun, realistic, and has inspired me to want to move to Spain to live for a few years when I finnish college. The wonderful tales of communal living is fascinating and passionate! A must read for 11-14 year olds!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 20, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book deals with Jessica, a young woman who resents her mother, idolizes her father, and tries hard to follow the teenage crowd. She is literally and figuratively stuck in a very small place, as she cannot acknowledge her father's part in her parents' divorce and stays holed up in her room much of the time. However, these things change when her mother sends her to Mexico to spend Christmas with her much-adored father. Once there, Jessica learns that there is more to life than following the crowds, that her father is not the perfect person that she imagines, and that her mother isn't so bad after all. Simply put, she grows up. In the bargain, she develops a relationship with an ailing great-uncle who teaches her to treasure the time she has, and to take advantage of opportunities when they show themselves.

Peck's writing style is refreshingly unique. The descriptions of the Chicago cold and the Mexican heat are almost enough to make you shiver and sweat, and he does an excellent job of presenting the world through a young person's eyes. This is a great book, and I highly recommend it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 25, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was truly a great book. Even though I don't usually enjoy reading, I found this book exciting and although my parents aren't divorced and my father doesn't live in Mexico, I could totally relate to Jessica's feelings toward her parents and life. Peck made the book interesting but yet simple and easy to follow. If you are a girl and you are looking for a good book to read, this one is a winner!
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 26, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There was no point to this story. The plot was boring and not interesting to read about at all. I thought the chapter endings were mysterious and exciting but the rest of the book was terrible.
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