Cut from the same cloth as several of Sachs's other contemporary problem novels geared mostly for girls (What My Sister Remembered; The Truth About Mary Rose), this introspective story has a couple of attention-grabbing twists: the heroine's fear of dogs, even if slightly overdrawn; and the more gracefully executed subplot revolving around Olivia's widowed grandmother, who lost her husband (""the only man I ever loved, the only man I ever could have loved..."") the same year Olivia's mother walked out the door for good. Grandma's sorrow parallels the 14-year-old's sense of loss brought on by her parents' separation and compounded by other disappointments, including her best friend's decision to transfer to another high school, plummeting grades in algebra and an infatuation with her math tutor that turns sour. When Olivia's grandmother snaps out of her depression, deciding to start living in the present instead of the past, she inspires her granddaughter to follow suit--transformations wrought subtly and believably. Olivia never quite forgives her mother for leaving, but she does grow more tolerant of changes beyond her control. Although marred by some contrivances in plot (e.g., the previously phobic Olivia's sudden affection for a poodle), this portrait of a dejected heroine is, for the most part, realistic. Readers will be content to wallow in Olivia's adolescent miseries knowing that the author is sure to provide a more upbeat resolution. Ages 10-14. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/02/1997 Release date: 06/01/1997 Genre: Children's
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