Karen Romano Young, Author Greenwillow Books $16 (192p) ISBN 978-0-688-16517-8
Young shifts gears from the lighthearted mood of her debut novel, The Beetle and Me, for this suspenseful psychological drama of an eighth-grade girl and the boy who surreptitiously observes her for a spring term project. The story opens with a third-person narration of a cryptic scene in which a fisherman moves his hands ""so casually over his stomach and his hips."" Most of what follows, in alternating first-person narratives, is Janine Gagnon's account of the events leading up to and following the incident, and classmate Eric Gooch's reports about Janine as the subject of his study as well as his thoughts about his own life. The author creates a compelling picture of Janine as a once popular girl, fallen from favor, and her simultaneous craving for solitude and attention. As her need for solace in the wetlands near her home increases, so does her exposure to the mysterious man who fishes there; Janine's budding adolescence lends credence to her confusion as she tries to sort out the man's intentions. Eric draws his own conclusions concerning the fisherman's behavior, and his confidence in his deduction serves as the catalyst for the climactic confrontation between Janine and the fisherman. Unfortunately, the ending itself may not be wholly credible to some readers, and the third-person narrative passages that open each chapter tend to distract more than move the plot forward. But Young has once again created believable, likable characters and demonstrates a versatile range in her writing. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999
Release date: 10/01/1999
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