Adam Zigzag

Barbara Barrie, Author
Barbara Barrie, Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers $14.95 (181p) ISBN 978-0-385-31172-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 181 pages - 978-0-440-21964-4
Prebound-Other - 181 pages - 978-0-606-08968-5
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Dyslexia itself is virtually the main character of Barrie's second novel, a work more ambitious but less satisfying than her Lone Star . Evidently drawing on personal experience, the author fashions a family headed by a producer dad and an actress mother (she stars in a TV show called Ben O'Neil, Twentieth Precinct ). The two children, Caroline and Adam, who take turns narrating the story, both have dyslexia. But while Caroline's is manageable, Adam's is almost disabling. Popular, obviously intelligent, Adam becomes increasingly frustrated as he submits to the copious ministrations of any number of tutors and teachers--and of one truly rotten doctor. Caroline, meanwhile, doesn't receive a fair share of their parents' attention; even as they blind themselves to their son's growing drug habit, they are consumed with anxiety and sympathy for his troubles in school. To her considerable credit, Barrie allows the reader to conceive of the enormous burden of a severe learning disability, and her book will win dyslexic students the respect and compassion of their classmates. But none of her characters seem as real as their various afflictions and, ironically, the division of narrative voices unflatteringly highlights Caroline's weakly delineated role in the story. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)
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