Ellen Wittlinger, Author . S&S $16.95 (227p) ISBN 978-0-689-86802-3

Wittlinger's (Heart on My Sleeve ) intense novel introduces Sandpiper, who learned in the eighth grade that performing oral sex is a "foolproof method" to having a boyfriend. Now a sophomore, she finds that "after a week or so with a guy... I couldn't stand him anymore." During one such breakup, she meets the mysterious Walker (so named because he walks all over town, "like he had someplace to go but wasn't in a big hurry to get there") and befriends him. On their walks, he avoids discussing his past, but she tells him about her reputation and Derek, the spurned guy who threatens her. Walker tells her that she's "worth" something and even gives her a new name: Piper. But as her mother's wedding plans accelerate, so does the harassment (Derek throws rocks at her cat and cuts her younger sister, making it look like an accident). Finally, a vicious attack forces Piper and Walker to face their dark pasts. The friendship never feels completely realistic, and Piper's poems, which run between chapters, sap the pacing, but readers will still be enticed into Piper's world. Wittlinger carefully demonstrates how Piper's behavior is unhealthy ("Oral sex is real sex!... you don't do it with everyone you meet," her father shouts), while making it clear that she is not to blame for Derek's frightening behavior. Piper's relationship with her father is particularly well drawn. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 06/01/2005
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 260 pages - 978-1-4169-3651-0
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4391-1579-4
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