Valerie Hobbs, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $16 (144p) ISBN 978-0-374-31153-7
As sensitive in its explorations of friendships as the author's How Far Would You Have Gotten If I Hadn't Called You Back? and Get It While It's Hot. Or Not, Hobbs's third novel revolves around Carolina--an impoverished 11-year-old living inside a converted school bus with her single mother and baby half-sister--and Stefan Millington Crouch III, the invalid son of wealthy parents. The two children meet after Carolina's mother, Melanie, parks their ""home on wheels"" on the Crouches' property and Stefan spies Carolina rescuing a baby crow that has fallen from its nest. In the same way Carolina gives protection to the half-starved fledgling, Stefan and his well-meaning mother offer Carolina a type of refuge, inviting her to stay with them while Melanie continues following the trail of her fickle boyfriend. Constructing rather well-worn metaphors out of Carolina's flightless crow, Stefan's caged pet and Stefan's own cumbersome wheelchair, Hobbs follows Carolina's thinking as she considers the Crouches' tempting offer but eventually decides that becoming a part of their family would be as unnatural for her as keeping her pet bird from its natural environment. While none of the adults seems particularly convincing, the characterizations of their children are complex. Through them the author sends a heartfelt message concerning limitations, restrictions and the universal longing to be free. Ages 9-12. (Mar.)
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HOW FAR WOULD YOU HAVE GOTTEN IF I HADN'T CALLED YOU BACK?
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