cover image True Love, the Sphinx, and Other Unsolvable Riddles

True Love, the Sphinx, and Other Unsolvable Riddles

Tyne O'Connell, . . Bloomsbury, $16.95 (228pp) ISBN 978-1-59990-050-6

Octavia and Rosie, best friends from an elite London school, meet up with their New York City counterparts, Sam and Salah, when their classes take a trip together down the Nile. Among the tombs and temples, romances blossom, but as if they were in “some sort of Shakespearean farce,” confusion quickly follows. Rosie, a gifted composer, and Egyptian-born Salah, one of the most eligible teenagers in Manhattan,” feel a definite connection, but beautiful boy-magnet Octavia swiftly claims him as her own. Readers will know that all will sort itself out by the end, or that the various misadventures will help the characters grow in important ways (outrageous Octavia will learn not to hide her family’s poverty, for example, and Salah will decide to “take fate into [his] own hands”). The author mixes in some ancient Egyptian history with images of contemporary life on the Nile; she also adds wacky characters, including a pair of nerdy teachers who keep getting in trouble with the police, at one point being charged for drug smuggling. The four protagonists take turns narrating, although not all of them fully engage readers’ interest. Attention-seeking Octavia, for example, who calls teachers “darling” and sneaks off the boat, comes across as more bratty than fun. Even so, there is enough romance—both personal and in the details about Egypt—to fuel this light diversion. Ages 12-up. (Dec.)