The Girl I Wanted to Be

Sarah Grace McCandless, Author
Sarah Grace McCandless, Author . Simon & Schuster $12 (175p) ISBN 978-0-7432-8518-6
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4332-0218-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-4332-0220-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-4332-0219-3
Ebook - 192 pages - 978-0-7432-9324-2
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-4332-3908-3
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From the start of this thoughtful novel it's clear that the girl who 14-year-old Presley Moran wants to be is her vivacious, daring and alcoholic aunt, Betsi. Only a teenager when her niece was born, Betsi convinced her sister to name the baby Presley, after Elvis. But Presley is everything her aunt isn't: cautious, insightful and wise. Though she is blessed with a close extended family and a nerdy younger brother (saved from easy caricature by taking comfortably to his thick glasses and pressed shirts), Presley still must learn to navigate the murky waters of high school. Hunky first cousin Barry, a popular senior, is a help, but when he becomes secretly involved with Betsi, a relative through marriage, tragedy threatens. Presley's string of high school firsts—including Halloween mischief and slumber parties—are soon outweighed by dismay and disillusionment at her discovery of Betsi and Barry's relationship, which turns predictably ugly. Their coupling doesn't come as a surprise, but the delicate manner in which sophomore novelist McCandless (Grosse Pointe Girl ) relays the affair does. (June)

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