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Zigzag Hardcover – August 1, 2003

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-10-Robin feels totally unworthy of her rich, smart boyfriend, Chris. So, when her divorced mother starts dating and Chris goes off to Rome for summer school, the 17-year-old accepts an invitation to drive from Iowa to California with her newly widowed Aunt Dory and her cousins, 13-year-old Iris and 10-year-old Marshall, taking a circuitous route to see the country. Cramped in a car with a family still grieving, Robin finds herself in the middle of every conceivable sibling and parental dispute. Marshall and Iris are realistically nasty and unkind to one another as well as to their suffering mother and Robin. As every dysfunctional episode ensues, the teen finds that she has the ability to help them all, and with that discovery she finds the way to help herself. There is nothing new about a novel that uses the plot device of a journey as a right of passage. Zigzag has that commonplace plot filled with plain, everyday people experiencing plain and ordinary problems. Yet all four of the extended family members on the trip move from self-doubt to self-knowledge, from chaos to order. With gentle wisdom and remarkably true characters, Wittlinger's writing conveys a fundamental truth: life is a nonlinear journey that everyone takes and it is the simple choices that define a person.
Jane Halsall, McHenry Public Library District, IL
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 8-12. High-school junior Robin is devastated when her college-bound boyfriend Chris chooses a study program in Rome instead of a summer in Iowa with her. Then Aunt Dory, a new widow with two children, asks Robin to join her on a cross-country car vacation. Wittlinger follows Robin through the difficult summer on the road as she grows close to Dory's grieving, troubled kids ("Superbitch" and "the next school shooter," Robin thinks as they set off); reconnects with her long-absent father; and finds new ideas for a future that doesn't revolve around Chris. Narrated in Robin's wry, likeable voice, the story pivots around a familiar formula (a teen's summer of discontent becomes a turning point of growth and discovery), but Wittlinger elevates the familiar into a moving, realistic exploration of first love, class issues, girls' self-confidence, and the process of healing. Teens will easily hear themselves in Robin's hilarious, sharp observations and feel her excitement as she travels through new country and discovers her own strength. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (August 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689849966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689849961
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,679,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ellen Wittlinger is the author of fifteen YA and middle-grade novels. Her novel Hard Love won both a Printz Honor Award and a Lambda Literary Award. Her books have been on numerous ALA Best Books lists, Bank Street College of Education lists and state award lists. Ellen has won state awards in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Her work has been translated into many other languages including Turkish, Croatian and Korean. She has taught at Emerson College in Boston and in the Simmons College Writing for Children MFA program.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Laura Lynn Walsh on September 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The premise of this book, a trip to get away from it all, is, as has been said, nothing new, but this book is extremely well-crafted in making all of the characters plausible and real - AND INTERESTING. Robin is dreading her boyfriend's first year at college while she is still in high school, when he gets a trip to Italy as a graduation present from his rich parents. Rather than falling apart entirely, Robin takes her mother's and her aunt's suggestion of accompanying her aunt and her cousins on a trip to California.
The best thing about this book is its lack of the melodramatic. All of Robin's relationships seem so real. She makes mistakes; she recovers. She gets mad at her cousin; she learns to sometimes hold her tongue. She doesn't pretend to like everything that comes her way, but she learns to tolerate it and with that, she not only begins to enjoy herself, she becomes able to help both herself and her family.
I have enjoyed other works by this author and this is another good one. The special quality about this one is that it feels GOOD to have read it - almost like you have learned a gentle lesson yourself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on August 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Well I left my happy home to see what I could find out
I left my folk and friends with the aim to clear my mind out
Well I hit the rowdy road and many kinds I met there
Many stories told me of the way to get there
So on and on I go, the seconds tick the time out
There's so much left to know, and I'm on the road to find out"
--Cat Stevens
ZIGZAG is a warm, sometimes rocky, summer's journey through which a young Midwestern woman--soon to begin her senior year of high school minus the boyfriend who is heading off to college--learns about losses, changes, choices, and new parts of the country, while accompanying her bereaved aunt and younger cousins on a winding highway of discovery across the Western US.
"Going down the road feeling bad
Going down the road feeling bad..."
As the story and the summer begin--with the fancy graduation party given for her boyfriend Chris--Robin is already miserable, trashing the summer before it starts because she is dreading Chris's end-of-summer departure to Georgetown. Robin is a girl who has misplaced her Self, along with any self-awareness of her better qualities, as a result of her perception of their relationship:
"It had all been so easy with Chris, right from the beginning. He was the perfect boy and he chose me. I knew I didn't deserve him, but I had him anyway. Except now he was leaving and I couldn't stand it. I couldn't imagine what my life would be like without him."
The crisis quickly hits high-alert, when Chris's parents unexpectedly give him a summer of studying in Rome as a graduation present. The plane leaves in a matter of days. Robin is awash in self-pity and junk food.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Dennis on April 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book was a nice read. There was nothing phenomonal about it,just a relaxing and easy read. The book is full of adventure but not worth buying. I would have checked it out from the library. There are too many slow parts in the book. A lot of dead time and it's very predictable. Nothing jumps out at you that makes you want to read on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jarrod T Thompson VINE VOICE on November 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I truly had trouble with the first part of this book because I don't want to read about some girl and her rich boyfriend, but this book is much more than that. As I finished the first thirty pages or so this book turned into something much better than a girl and her rich boyfriend.

This story about getting to know each other is best done in the film, Coup Deville starring Daniel Stern and Patrick Dempsey. Zig Zag easily rivals the aforementioned classic film with a very intriguing story about a girl who is left by her boyfriend to spend her last summer alone. That girl, Robin, decides to go on a trip with her Aunt and cousins whose dad just recently died. The whole family has post-traumatic issues and Robin ends up being like a therapist for her extended family's dysfunction.

Marshall, Iris and Dory all have their own individual issues that Robin helps them deal with and get their mind off of the best she can. The whole adventure is interesting and Ellen Wittlinger should be proud of her achievement. Getting me to read this kind of book and enjoy it takes talent. Wittlinger is very talented.

Great book.
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