The Likes of Me

Randall Beth Platt, Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers $15.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-32692-6
The narrator of Platt's (Honor Bright) unconventional historical novel is 14-year-old Cordelia Lu Hankins, a comic na f in a tall tale setting. A half-Caucasian, half-Chinese albino, Cordy lives in a Washington State lumber camp in 1918 with her widowed, reserved father. The arrival of two outsiders change Cordy's life: the terrifyingly gruff six-foot-ten 350-pound Babe, whom her father marries (""They called her Babe because she was strong as an ox--Paul Bunyan's blue ox, to be exact""); and a handsome, dangerously charming ""half-breed"" log-boomer and con man, Squirl, who hails from Seattle. A hilarious episode ending in Cordy's first kiss gets Squirl fired and sets Cordy packing. Disguised as a widow, she runs away to the infamous Cousin Sally's in the seedy Luna Park section of Seattle, which she has heard Squirl mention. The Seattle scenes lack the pacing and clever details of the logging camp, but the eccentric cast is finely sketched from start to finish. Cordy's plucky transformation is convincing, and while readers may not be surprised to discover Babe's past, they will likely cheer when Cordy intercedes before Squirl can exploit Babe's secret for reward money. The evolution of Cordy and her stepmother's relationship from adversarial to affectionate is a bit abrupt, but ultimately this is a satisfying story of self-acceptance. Ages 14-up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-21296-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 256 pages - 978-0-440-22880-6
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