The Turnabout Shop, this warmhearted novel traces a displaced orphan's adjustment to a new family. However, unlike its predecessor, this s"/>

NOT QUITE A STRANGER

Colby F. Rodowsky, Author . FSG $16 (181p) ISBN 978-0-374-35548-7

Like Rodowsky's The Turnabout Shop, this warmhearted novel traces a displaced orphan's adjustment to a new family. However, unlike its predecessor, this story alternates between two points of view, that of 17-year-old Zachary Pearce, who, after his mother's death, seeks out the father he never knew, and that of his 13-year-old half-sister, Tottie Flannigan, who learns of Zachary's existence only after he arrives unannounced at their door. Although Tottie's father, mother and seven-year-old brother all seem to welcome Zachary with open arms, underlying tensions in the household emerge as the two main characters narrate. In Zachary's eyes, the Flannigans, who invite him to live with them, are too good to be true. He keeps waiting for a bomb to drop. Tottie, on the other hand, would like a bomb to drop, to shake her parents back to their senses and realize how crazy it is to take in a virtual stranger. As Zachary settles in with the family, following his father's footsteps by enrolling in a prestigious boys' school, readers' empathies will extend to both the older teen and disgruntled Tottie, who can't get over the fact that her seemingly perfect father—a pediatrician and the author of a parenting book—had a child out of wedlock. Although the Flannigans, as Zachary observes, appear at first to be as plastic as the Leave It to Beaver family, they gain dimension as they begin to release locked-up feelings. As always, the author does a superb job of downplaying the melodrama of an extraordinary situation and evoking the emotions of ordinary adolescents in crisis. Ages 10-up. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/30/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
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