Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress

Maria Padian, Author . Knopf $15.99 (276p) ISBN 978-0-375-84675-5

Padian's debut novel introduces a quirky and refreshing character. Fourteen-year-old Brett McCarthy is an independent-thinking jock who cherishes the time she spends with her best friend, Diane, and her spunky grandmother, Nonna. Unlike many of her fictional peers, Brett is neither beautiful nor brilliant, but simply an above-average student with a robust vocabulary and a killer instinct on the soccer field. Her life is perfect, or close to it, until an ill-advised phone prank triggers a falling-out with Diane. Soon Brett finds her identity redefined—a recurrent theme—from an athlete with friends to a troublemaker who's been kicked off the team. And when Nonna is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Brett must redefine herself again, from self-involved child to mature young woman. Forceful and heartwarming, this coming-of-age story examines what happens when old friends are outgrown and loved ones are no longer there to lean on. At one point, Brett says, “I had shed and added more defining characteristics than I even knew existed.” And even though Padian embraces some well-worn stereotypes (the cheerleaders are pretty airheads and the jocks are blond Adonises), readers will relate to Brett's missteps and successes. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/03/2008
Release date: 03/01/2008
Paperback - 275 pages - 978-0-440-24055-6
Library Binding - 276 pages - 978-0-375-94675-2
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-375-84940-4
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