Pithy observations from a 14-year-old narrator and full-blooded characters make this latest from Frank (Will You Be My Brussels Sprout?) a laugh-out-loud tale of teen angst. New Yorker Joy is having one disappointing freshman year: her best friend ditches her for a boyfriend, the class nerd has a crush on her and when her mother's uncle (weakened by a stroke) moves in with the family, she must room with her 11-year-old brother Nathan and ""watch"" her Uncle Max after school. The man has a set way of doing everything, down to how the dishwasher should be loaded. But as Joy spends time with Uncle Max, she learns a great deal, including the value of family--and she urges him to take risks and choose life. While the conclusion ties up all the loose ends into a bow, this is no sappy story. Joy's spirited narration adds the juice. When she finally finds a love match, she describes the feeling this way, ""I said `Wow!' a lot more times than I'd have wished, but otherwise, I don't think I was much less cool than usual."" Joy's preoccupation with finding a boyfriend grows gradually, so that the down-to-earth teen retains her independence, and her relationship with her new beau serves as a good model for a healthy relationship. Even so, it's the scenes with Joy and Uncle Max cooking, playing cards or taking walks wherein the true lessons--and laughs--lay. Ages 11-14. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999 Release date: 09/01/1999 Genre: Children's
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