Michelle D. Kwasney, Author . Holt $16.95 (202p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7050-7

Kwasney's debut novel sensitively and perceptively takes a familiar YA theme and gives it heart: a spunky but frightened preadolescent girl must gather enough courage to help save her mother from an abusive husband. It's a hot and humid summer in rural Massachusetts in 1976, a time of tie-dyed skirts and Frye boots, and 12-year-old Blue, the narrator, is coping with her naively hopeful mother, Ceil, a waitress, and her temperamental and violent stepfather, Jinx. Blue misses her Pa, who drowned when he tried to save a boy, and blames herself for begging Pa to have a picnic along the river that day. Now she has also lost her older sister, Star, who refuses to live in the same house as Jinx. Blue first schemes to get Star back, then, in a tense climax, breaks down a door and jumps on Jinx to stop him from beating Ceil, imagining herself to have the strength of a "lion on the edge." The author's eye for detail and sense of place firmly ground the story. Blue's refusal to accept her mother's deluded rationalizations for Jinx's behavior doesn't dent Blue's fierce love for her mother, marking her as a tough, winning heroine who will earn readers' sympathy and respect. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-4299-2525-9
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