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THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLS

Frances O'Roark Dowell, Author
Frances O'Roark Dowell, Author . S&S/ Atheneum $15.95 (247p) ISBN 978-0-689-84421-8
Reviewed on: 05/31/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4000-8505-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-4000-8985-7
Paperback - 247 pages - 978-1-4169-0717-6
Prebound-Glued - 247 pages - 978-0-7569-5463-5
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7393-8577-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4000-8504-0
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-34535-4
Prebound-Sewn - 247 pages - 978-1-4177-4329-2
Open Ebook - 245 pages - 978-1-4424-9029-1
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In a perceptive slice-of-life novel, Dowell (Dovey Coe ) knowingly portrays the changing dynamics of middle-school relationships. Neighbors Kate and Marylin, who have been best friends since nursery school, find themselves drifting apart at the beginning of sixth grade. Marylin suddenly focuses on her appearance ("As much as Marylin hated to, she had to admit it: She was the sort of person who cared about toes"). Kate pays more attention to other issues, like the health of her father, who suffers a heart attack early on ("Her dad would probably never got to eat another sausage pizza in his life. For some reason, that seemed like the saddest thing Kate had ever heard"). Alternating Kate's and Marylin's points of view, the novel progresses episodically, with large gaps of time separating "milestone" incidents in the girls' movement along different paths. Marylin makes the cheerleading squad and becomes popular, but happiness always seems just beyond her grasp. Meanwhile, Kate feels abandoned by Marylin and strives to develop new friendships with other classmates at school. Much of the plot matter is familiar—both girls fall in and out of love, sample different social circles and end up realizing that they miss each other—as Dowell offers insight and evenhandedness, not novelty. Girls will recognize their own dilemmas here and feel encouraged by the author's honest and sympathetic approach. Ages 8-12. (May)

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