Sonya Hartnett, Candlewick, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4760-5
Hartnett eviscerates modern suburban life in this blistering story of broken families, buried secrets, and foundering lives. Plum Coyle is almost 14 and terrifically insecure, with two older brothers, Justin and Cydar, who love her but are as emotionally helpless as Plum and their parents. Plum prepares for her 14th birthday, desperately trying to stay afloat with a set of friends who are ready to pounce on the slightest vulnerability, and befriends an older neighbor, Maureen, but cruelties and pain are never far away. Plum's secrets are humiliatingly revealed, as are those of Justin and Maureen. Hartnett's exquisite prose is soaked in visceral descriptions of consumerism, human weakness, and an ugliness that lies just below the surface of everyday life; the closest the book comes to offering a moment of hope is when Cydar, by far the most self-aware character, sacrifices to purchase Plum the birthday gift she wants more than anything—a television. It would be easy to dismiss Hartnett's story as misanthropic, yet it's not so much contemptuous of humanity than of what it has become. Ages 14–up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/16/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
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Compact Disc - 978-1-74214-154-1
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MP3 CD - 978-1-4558-2034-4
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Paperback - 214 pages - 978-0-14-104084-4
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Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-74285-232-4
Paperback - 232 pages - 978-0-7636-6334-6
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