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When I Was Older Hardcover – August 28, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (August 28, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618055452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618055456
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,697,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fifteen-year-old Sophie leads a well-regulated life of studying, swim practices and daily "on purpose" memories of her younger brother, who died of leukemia when she was 12. Set in contemporary Manhattan, this first novel uses humor and angst to take on the big and little issues of teen life, from loss to school politics. Contrary to her strong views against dating, which she thinks makes girls "stupid beyond belief," Sophie finds herself attracted to Francis, the son of her mother's new boyfriend. Francis's straight-shooting approach to everythingAincluding the death of his motherAchallenges Sophie's assumptions and illuminates her path to healing. Given the unconventional experiences Freymann-Weyr has assigned him, Francis is perhaps a little too well-adjusted for credibility. The story, which is framed by an essay that Sophie writes for school, offers little tension and no surprises. All the same, Sophie's personal revelations and changes of heart unfold believably. Full of vinegar and sass, Sophie is likable and energetic enough to carry this tale. Ages 10-14.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9-Sophie Merdinger, 15, is a swimmer and a dedicated student who, after three years, is still obsessed with her younger brother's death. Her mother is dating for the first time since her husband moved out during their son's illness. Sophie has a hard time forgiving her father and is resistant to growing up and leaving her brother behind. As a result, she refuses to have a boyfriend or even to date, though she has many offers. Her only friend is Henry, a genius chess player, until she meets Francis, her mother's boyfriend's 17-year-old son. He lost his mother nine years earlier, and understands her pain. In this touching coming-of-age novel, the theme of losing a loved one is strong, but does not overwhelm the story of Sophie's growth as a young woman. As she learns to trust Francis, she begins to accept her brother's death and realizes that she has been unsympathetic to her father. The novel is set against the backdrop of New York City, where Sophie and Francis explore museums and coffee shops as their relationship develops. The protagonist is a likable and intelligent young woman, Francis is a gentle and thoughtful young man, and the supporting characters are well drawn. Fast-paced, light, yet introspective, this novel of transition, love, and loss explores emotion while telling a fine story.
Angela J. Reynolds, Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Aloha, OR
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Welcome to my Amazon page. I think I'm supposed to be formal here and speak about myself in the third person, but I'd rather just say hello. I'm very excited that I wrote the story for a beautiful picture book called French Ducks in Venice (play the video that the brilliant Erin McGuire made and that the equally brilliant Jeff Freymann-Weyr did the music for).

Normally I write novels for both adults and young adults (a fancy phrase for people who are 12-18, although I have lots of readers who are younger and older than that). In addition to French Duck in Venice, I am the author of My Heartbeat, a Printz Honor book, which is being reissued by Houghton Mifflin in June, 2012. I also wrote Stay with Me, The Kings Are all Here, and When I Was Older. For a long time, I lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and then in a small town in North Carolina.

Now I am living in a lot of different places at once, which can be confusing. Fortunately, my dog, Henry (see photo), comes everywhere with me.

I grew up in New York City and miss it everyday. I have an MFA from NYU and I teach writing when I am not writing.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In this vibrant, engrossing novel, Sophie takes you on a tour of what it's like to be a teenager in the 21st century. Between swim practice and English essays there is trying to cope with family and friends and learning about what love is. Readers of all ages will be drawn in and unconciously given a dose of life medicine. Freymann-Weyr's grip on all of the angst and humor that comes with growing up hits the spot. I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The publisher is sorely mistaken, I think, in placing this book in the 9-to-12 children's category; the story will hold at least as much interest for teenagers and their parents and grandparents as for younger readers. The tale is a timely one, full of nuance, and beautifully told. While simple enough to be understood by children, it works on many levels and will more than adequately reward readers of any age. I am 73 and male, and found it perfectly fascinating.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Freymann-Weyr's "When I Was Older" is perceptive, lovely, & heart-stopping, a book both for young & not so young. The issues it dramatizes apply to everyone. The focus is on a young girl who faces & grows into early maturity: she must deal with the death of her brother, her own low self-esteem, her awareness of loss, her response to becoming herself an object of attraction to boys, & her new awareness of the complicated but ordinary world of her parents, including her father's affair. The narrative flows gracefully from the heroine's center of consciousness outward toward the world of real things & of other people. The writing is elegantly colloquial, sharply evocative. The dramatic situations are vividly realized. If there's anything wrong with the novel it's that it is too short. But that is a given of the genre, I suppose. And there's always, I hope, the possibility of a sequal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I meant just to skim this book, but it grabbed me right with the first sentence, and then the story kept me locked in till I had read it all. It's a convincing and vivid look at a fifteen year old girl's struggle to take the problems of her life (death, divorce, swim team, boys -- you know the drill) seriously but with humor. A good, interesting, read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a funny, moving, story that kept me reading till the last word, and then I didn't want it to end. The dialogue is so on target, and the feelings so real. I loved the whole idea of a girl growing into a person without having to give up what makes her different from the cookiecutter types on tv or in movies. I wanted to know more about Sophie, Francis, their families, and how they all sort themselves out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hugh Guilbeau on October 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful, moving book that is also funny and that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Freymann-Weyr's sensitive treatment of loss and memory will be with me for a long time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Sophie Merdinger has accomplished the impossible: she made me wish I could be fifteen again- something I've spent a lot of time being happy I could never be forced to do. Sophie did not inspire this bizarre wish because her life looks like a walk in the park- quite the contrary. With tremendous humor, insight, and respect for the process people go through to become themselves, the author has captured all the really hard stuff that we find ourselves suddenly growing into around Sophie's age. For me, the magic in this book comes from the author's sense of balance. Freymann-Weyr conveys the very serious side of being Sophie: she is dealing with all the complicated relationships which can be brushed under the word "family," learning to live with a deep loss without losing her past or future self, and exploring the risks of liking a guy while trying to make sure she doesn't turn into a brain-dead girlfriend. Nevertheless, I found myself howling with laughter through much of the book. So much that happens, even right in the middle of a miserable moment, is hilarious because what Sophie says and thinks is wry, true, and honestly aware of her own and other's foibles. I loved reading this book and am planning to send a copy to a couple of friends who survived being fifteen with me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laura on September 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is the type of a book a teenager will keep, and re-read, for years to come. Sophie, the book's heroine, is a wonderfully drawn portrait of a young girl on the brink adulthood - with equal parts grace and temerity. She is humorous and intelligent while struggling to understand adult behavior, the "rules" of high school, and her own place in the world.
I bought this book for a friend's child and ended up reading it myself - and loving it. It's well-written, engaging, and funny. A rare find in the world of young adult literature. How nice to find a book for teenagers without serial murderers, rapists, or extra-terrestrials. (With all due respect to E.T.).
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