Second to None

Arlynn Presser, Author, Vivian Leiber, Author
Arlynn Presser, Author, Vivian Leiber, Author Zebra $3.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8217-4514-4
Open Ebook - 978-0-7592-9868-2
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Garnet, 17, desperately wants a first-rate college education, especially after watching her single mother struggle to survive on a meager income. Scoring well on the upcoming SATs is crucial, and the volunteer tutoring she receives from Grant, a gifted sophomore, seems to help. He's a self-proclaimed geek, an assessment Garnet's popular boyfriend agrees with, but Grant's sweet nature impresses his pupil. These conflicts are overwhelmed by a far more dramatic turn of events, heralded by the sudden appearance of Garnet's father, married to the wealthy Alice. After years of ignoring his illegitimate daughter, he asks Garnet to save his son--stricken with leukemia--via a bone-marrow transplant. This debut novel looks encouraging for the series; Presser renders Garnet's first-person narration skillfully and authentically, endowing her heroine with honesty and humor (``I even have the recommended daily allowance of sympathy for Alice''). Even more commendably, she manages to find a measure of genuine emotion and vulnerability in what seems like a tabloid-style plot line. Ages 12-15. (Mar.)
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