From the Alice McKinley series , Vol. 16

In this 13th book about Alice (The Grooming of Alice, 2000, etc.), her romance with Patrick hits rocky ground, depicted in the gently realistic, often humorous, style that characterizes the series. As she enters high school, Alice feels mildly scared about her new school, happy about her father’s deepening romance, and heartbroken about Patrick’s interest in a new girl. She realizes that she depended on the romance to feel good about herself and decides that she needs to base her sense of worth on other aspects of her life. While her friends rally around, Alice bolsters her spirits by working on the high-school newspaper and joining the drama club. In a typical funny episode, she invites three former female prisoners—one a former prostitute—to Thanksgiving dinner as an act of charity, but implies to her father and brother that they are foreign refugees. On a more serious note, a friend tells Alice that she was sexually molested as a young girl, a subject handled with sensitivity and good sense. As these scenes suggest, the books in the series deal with progressively more serious issues as Alice gets older, allowing readers to keep enjoying the books as they too get older. Alice continues to be an “everygirl,” who, though blessed with a more loving family than many, still experiences heartache, questions her attractiveness without obsessing about it, and gets through the hard days as well as the good ones as best she can. Her fans will welcome her back while new readers are in for a treat. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-82634-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. His aunt and friends want him to avenge the recent murder of his cousin, but Eddie just wants to find a way out. Everything he tries turns soura stint doing yard work ends when his boss's truck is stolen on Eddie's watchand life is a daily battle for survival. This unrelenting portrait is unsparing in squalid details: The glue sniffers, gangs, bums, casual knifings, filth, and stench are in the forefront of a life without much hope``Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant, unemployable people.'' Soto plays the tale straightthe only sign of a ``happy'' ending is in Eddie's joining the Navy. The result is a sort of Fresno Salaam Bombay without the pockets of humanity that gave the original its charm. A valuable tale, it's one that makes no concessions. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201333-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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