The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson

Carol Lynch Williams, Author
Carol Lynch Williams, Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers $14.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-385-32249-2
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During the first disturbing chapters of this novel set in Florida, Williams (Kelly and Me; Adeline Street) graphically describes the abuse of two sisters by their apparently psychotic mother. Mrs. Jackson's behavior is never predictable; still, it comes as a shock to the reader as well as to 12-year-old Caitlynne and 11-year-old Cara when she storms out the door with her suitcase and typewriter to write a ""blockbuster bestseller."" Left with 43 dollars and a fresh batch of bruises, the girls feel relief when their mother is gone. But when the money is spent and Cara nearly drowns in a swimming accident, Caitlynne realizes they need adult help. Without a phone and inspired by the characters in the novel Homecoming, they set off on a day-long bicycle trip to their grandmother (who, according to their mother, doesn't even like them). This tale of abandonment and survival effectively expresses the gradual strengthening of Caitlynne's spirit, yet portraits of some important minor characters, including the grandmother, are as vague as the two-dimensional characterization of the children's monster-mother. The author is more successful at conveying the bond between two sisters in trouble. Scenes showing the girls' attempts to soothe each other's physical and emotional wounds add a strong undercurrent of tenderness to this often harrowing drama. Ages 10-14. (Feb.)
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