UNEXPECTED DEVELOPMENT

Marlene Perez, Author . Roaring Brook/Brodie $16.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-59643-006-8

In this debut novel, written as a "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essay, narrator Megan addresses her teacher, reflecting on seeing "the best and the worst in [guys]" and her struggles with a body that "polite people call top-heavy." During the summer before her senior year, Megan attracts the attention of her longtime crush, Jake, who works alongside her at the Pancake Palace, faces both a sexually harassing bully and boss, and grapples with whether or not to have breast-reduction surgery. Megan is likable and funny (she says Jake "smell[s] like temptation and Ivory soap") and Perez focuses on a compelling body-image issue. Megan wears baggy clothes and not only must she listen to warnings from her mother ("Boys Jake's age have only one thing on their minds"), but she, too, worries that that's all Jake wants. Readers will find Megan easy to relate to, but may find some of the book's other elements troublesome. Her pervert boss's affair with a promiscuous co-worker, for instance, reads as stereotypical, and her shopping trip and heart-to-heart with her often-hurtful mother wraps things up a bit too easily. While these elements detract from the novel, Megan's appealing character will draw readers in, and will likely make the audience hope for more from this promising writer. Ages 12-up. (Sept.).

Reviewed on: 09/06/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 176 pages - 978-0-7613-2948-0
Hardcover - 160 pages - 978-0-7613-2425-6
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