cover image My Almost Epic Summer

My Almost Epic Summer

Adele Griffin, . . Putnam, $15.99 (170pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23784-3

Griffin (Sons of Liberty ) creates a lighthearted rendering of teenage ennui in this novel introducing Irene, a 14-year-old who is stuck at home in New Jersey while her best friend "spends a glorious, glamorous summer" at tennis camp in Vermont. Irene is passionate about two things: reading books and sketching hairdos of her favorite literary heroines. She dreams of owning her own beauty salon some day, but for the time being, she must tolerate a much less exciting career, baby-sitting the two Prior children five days a week. Just as she's resigned herself to spending hot, miserable days at the beach with her two young wards, Irene meets Starla, a stunningly beautiful but narcissistic lifeguard. The plot thickens when a mutual attraction blossoms between Starla's ex-boyfriend and Irene. Through a first-person narrative full of irony, the author conveys her heroine's alternating envy of and fascination for Starla as well as Irene's gradual realization that she may, after all, be a more interesting person than a bronzed-to-perfection diva. E-mails from Irene's friend at camp and an endearing nun, who was Irene's former English teacher, add an extra dimension to the novel, which underscores such morals as "You can't judge a book by its cover" and "Beauty is only skin deep." Ages 11-up. (Apr.)