cover image What I Did for Roman

What I Did for Roman

Pam Conrad. HarperCollins Publishers, $12.95 (218pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021331-2

The author of Prairie Songs and Holding Me Here has written an emotionally daring book about Darcie, 16, who is stuck with her aunt and uncle while her mother and new husband honeymoon. Darcie works at Uncle George's restaurant at the children's zoo, and meets Roman, 28, a gentle but disconcerting man. Darcie loves him almost the first time she sees him and invites him along when she tries to find her real father, who allegedly abandoned her and her mother. Her hunt reveals the facts: her father, later killed in Vietnam, planned to return for mother and child. Roman, bereft over the death of a favorite animal, takes Darcie with him to ""test Death.'' But Darcie has learned to make her own choices. Conrad probes the issues of dependence and freedom, will and rule, control and vulnerability, with the sure perspective of a mature writer. This is an incisive, disturbing book. Ages 12-up. (April)