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First Impressions

Marilyn Sachs, Author
Marilyn Sachs, Author . Roaring Brook/Brodie $16.95 (116p) ISBN 978-1-59643-117-1
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Alice, a straight-A high school student, gets her first C+, on a paper about Pride and Prejudice . But she finds that her negative first reaction to the book is ill-conceived when her English teacher asks her to reread the novel. When Alice examines the classic more closely, she makes some important discoveries about its characters and also about author Jane Austen, who mysteriously "appears" to Alice at unexpected moments ("She was facing the waves, so I couldn't see her face.... I knew I would see the mysterious woman again, and I knew who she was"). At the same time that the teen uncovers new meaning in Austen's book, she also gains insight into her seemingly dull parents and two classmates: Jenny, who lives in the shadow of her prettier cousin, and Kevin, "one of those boys you could feel perfectly comfortable with," who asks Alice out on a date. While this novel will likely spark the interest of Austen fans, it lacks the dramatic tension found in many of Sachs's previous works (A Pocket Full of Seeds ; Lost in America ). Surreal episodes, some of which occur when Alice finds herself placed within key scenes from Pride and Prejudice , appear strained and do little to advance the plot. Alice's realizations about life and literature come from her reading of the text and her interactions with friends and family—not from her magical encounters with the fictional characters and their long-dead author. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)

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