Maureen Johnson, Author . Penguin/Razorbill $16.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-59514-019-7

Johnson (The Key to the Golden Firebird ) offers a saga of three best friends in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: impetuous, wry Avery, shy, sweet Mel and bright, assertive Nina (whose last name gives the novel its title). During the summer before their senior year, Nina heads cross-country to attend a summer program on Stanford's campus, while her two pals waitress at a local restaurant. One morning after Avery has spent the night at Mel's house, the two share a kiss on the lips. Some readers will find the descriptions of the duo's involvement overwrought or trite (e.g., "Everything was tiny and well disguised, but there were little electric moments everywhere" and "Avery's lips were always slightly smoky, as was the upholstery of her car"). In a scenario totally lacking in subtlety, Nina (just back from her program, at which she fell madly in love with a male student) walks in on Avery and Mel while they are kissing in a store dressing room. Curiously, the novel's most sympathetic character is a supporting player, Parker, a funny and deep-feeling fellow who aspires—futilely—to date both Mel and Nina. Though the novel becomes more credible as it unfolds, for some readers, Johnson's tale may tread too close to soap opera turf, with its attendant stalled pace. Ages 14-up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 12/06/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 370 pages - 978-1-59514-155-2
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-101-57873-5
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-689-86391-2
Paperback - 370 pages - 978-1-59514-033-3
Prebound-Glued - 370 pages - 978-1-4176-9398-6
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-689-86390-5
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