Angels on the Roof

Martha Moore, Author
Martha Moore, Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers $15.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-385-32278-2
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This well crafted drama about an ""At Risk"" ninth grader and her eccentric single mother provides a fertile field of images, ideas and psychological profiles for readers to explore. Teenaged Shelby, who has moved a dozen or so times, is tired of following the crazy whims of her mother, Zoe, ""a single mom with a string of used boyfriends."" Now they're ready to hit the road again, this time to visit Zoe's foster mother, Aunt Onie, ""a hundred-year-old-lady who lives in the middle of a cow pasture."" Returning to her birthplace in Red Valley, Shelby hopes, at least, to dredge up some information about her ""nonexistent"" father, but piecing together fragments from the past brings pain as well as enlightenment. Moore's (Under the Mermaid Angel) down-to-earth prose is heightened by an intriguing network of symbols and allusions pertaining to the artist Georgia O'Keeffe (whom Shelby's mother idolizes). The author's eye for detail accentuates the eccentricities of her cast of characters (as in this example of Shelby describing a drugstore clerk, ""The first thing I noticed was her hair. It was pale pink and whipped on top of her head like a Dairy Queen ice-cream cone"") and draws attention to particular artifacts (a flat roof top, a silver belt buckle, Christmas ornaments) which carry special significance. Through Shelby's first-person narrative, readers uncover her deep-seated family secrets and are led to a startling conclusion. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
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