cover image Taking the Ferry Home

Taking the Ferry Home

Pam Conrad. HarperCollins Publishers, $11.95 (180pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021317-6

Conrad transforms a YA stereotypethe nasty, beautiful rich girlinto a multifaceted character worthy of understanding and sympathy. Told in alternating chapters, the story of Simone and Ali's friendship begins warily one summer on Dune Island. Ali's father, a famous writer, has rented the cottage on Simone's family's estate. Simone is desperate for a friend but has trouble reaching out, for she is haunted by her secrets, one in the pastat age seven, she saw her beloved Jamaican nanny drownand one in the presenther mother's drug and alcohol abuse. Ali is much more forthright; she loves and is loved by her parents, and learns just how complex human beingseven an outwardly perfect oneare. A romantic betrayal, a fiery accident involving cocaine free-basing and a near tragedy at the site of the earlier drowning unwind with precision and a feeling of inevitability, as if these two friends have been set on a fateful course from the first moment they met. Conrad's story resonates with truth and caring; she poetically elevates friendship to a state in which redemption is possible. Ages 12-up. (July)