Ask Me Something Easy: Natalie Honeycutt

Natalie Honeycutt, Author Orchard Books (NY) $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-531-05894-7
Having previously produced a number of lightweight problem novels featuring such memorable characters as Lissa Woodbury ( Invisible Lissa ) and Jonah Twist ( The All-New Jonah Twist ), Honeycutt reaches a new level of sophistication in this compelling drama, which explores the devastating effects of a bitter divorce. In an attempt to answer her older sister's questions (``What happened to us . . . ? Why did we stop being friends?''), 17-year-old Addie Dillon recounts how she, her sisters and mother have changed during the preceding 10 years. Structured as a series of memories, the book reveals the breakdown of family stability, at the same time conveying the narrator's anger, confusion and eventual acceptance of harsh truths. When Addie is seven years old, her father moves out for good. Overwhelmed by resentment and financial worries, Mrs. Dillon drafts her responsible oldest daughter, Dinah, as confidant and helper, while her two youngest children, Tiny and Bits, retreat into a world of make-believe. Middle child Addie, meanwhile, can do nothing right. Her grades begin to slip, and she is chastised often for being unproductive and rebellious. As time goes by, her mother and Dinah, who is frequently put in charge, become more critical and restrictive, until Addie begins to feel like a prisoner in her own house. By the end of the novel, it becomes clear that although the teen has suffered from a badly battered ego, she has learned to cope with surrounding chaos and emerges as a survivor. The wisdom she has gained is poignantly expressed as she compares herself and the rest of her family to tumbleweeds, blown by the wind ``in a new direction.'' Departing from the neatly resolved endings she has provided in the past, the author focuses on the tragic consequences of neglect and emotional abuse. Readers will be deeply moved by her chilling portrayal of a vulnerable girl desperately searching for love and acceptance. Ages 11-13. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Hardcover - 978-0-531-08494-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 160 pages - 978-0-380-71723-1
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