Paulsen's latest comes close to a classic teenage male fantasy of fleeing from home to seek independence and self. Both Terry's parents leave the same day; each phones asking him to tell the other. Since their quarrels have always obliterated any urge to parent it's no loss, especially since Terry has $1,000 and a kit to build a car. After handily putting it together and teaching himself to drive, the 14-year-old heads west. He picks up Waylon, an aging, footloose vet whose psychic wounds date to carrying out termination orders against civilians in 'Nam (as depicted in vignettes entitled "Memories," early on); Waylon takes Terry to Wayne, a war buddy who tries to temper Waylon's sporadic rages against injustice. Hoping to kindle the boy's curiosity, the two take him on a journey that includes meeting an ancient man who tells tales from US history and a madam who explains that another friend (also a prostitute) has died of AIDS; a poker game; a fundamentalist commune where women are rigidly oppressed; and the site of Custer's defeat. Scenes and camaraderie are vivid, the narrative pungent. Kids will be enthralled by Terry's freedom and his friends' aura of mystery and loyalty; they may also sympathize with Waylon's violent, though righteous, anger without understanding its terrible consequences. In an inconclusive ending, Terry heads back into a conflict with some local toughs that may well end like Custer's. What can he look forward to if he survives? Paulsen doesn't offer much. There's a strong conscience propelling this novel, but it's buried so deep that YA's caught up in the action may miss it. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-15-292878-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1994

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Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 1

A century before the events of Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy, another everyday heroine gets entangled with demon-slaying Shadowhunters. Sixteen-year-old orphaned Tessa comes to London to join her brother but is imprisoned by the grotesque Dark Sisters. The sisters train the unwilling Tessa in previously unknown shapeshifter abilities, preparing her to be a pawn in some diabolical plan. A timely rescue brings Tessa to the Institute, where a group of misfit Shadowhunters struggles to fight evil. Though details differ, the general flavor of Tessa’s new family will be enjoyably familiar to the earlier trilogy’s fans; the most important is Tessa’s rescuer Will, the gorgeous, sharp-tongued teenager with a mysterious past and a smile like “Lucifer might have smiled, moments before he fell from Heaven.” The lush, melodramatic urban fantasy setting of the Shadowhunter world morphs seamlessly into a steampunk Victorian past, and this new series provides the setup for what will surely be a climactic battle against hordes of demonically powered brass clockworks. The tale drags in places, but this crowdpleaser’s tension-filled conclusion ratchets toward a new set of mysteries. (Steampunk. 13-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7586-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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