Melina Gerosa Bellows, Author . NAL $12.95 (280p) ISBN 978-0-451-21653-3

Warns Bella, the protagonist of Bellows's debut, "You only get so many chances in life to make a wish"; at 8½ in 1974, what Bella wants most is to be a bride. Over the course of three decades, Bella's wishes change: they include not wanting to be embarrassed by her twin, Bobby, who has Asperger's; getting into Notre Dame; and not making a fool of herself on live TV. The childlike voice in which much of the book's first part is written ("Grandina always had enough love and kisses to go around, even when I'd be scared or sad and need a second helping of hugs to feel full") may strike some readers as contrived, as may the franglais in which Bella and her best "boy friend, two words" speak well into adulthood, and the surreal insight with which Bella's brother pegs her relationships. The novel fast-forwards through Bella's life, skipping years at a time (chapter headings orient readers by listing Bella's age, current idol, favorite song, most prized possession and best pair of shoes). Those looking for a three-decade slice of life will find the overarching story of Bella's coming to terms with her brother and finding love moving; others may wish the story's forward pull felt like more than just chronology. (Oct. 4)

Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
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