cover image Night Kites

Night Kites

M. E. Kerr. HarperCollins Publishers, $12.95 (216pp) ISBN 978-0-06-023253-5

At 17, Erick Rudd finds that his relatively stable life is turned upside down by two nearly simultaneous events. His best friend Jack's girlfriend Nicki, who's beautiful and flirtatious, makes a play for him. To Nicki, Erick's a challenge; he falls hard for her, but loses his friendship with Jack and his own girlfriend in the process. He also finds out that his older brother Pete is dying of AIDS, which is how he learns that Pete is gay. Through Erick's eyes the reader sees the effect of this shocking news on the Rudd family. Even without having tackled the subject of AIDS, this would have been another fine novel by Kerr: her characterizations are strong and true, and the book's very contemporary references (MTV, Madonna, etc.) will appeal to teens. But it's her sensitive, compassionate treatment of AIDS, and how Erick and his family cope with it, that make this story exceptional, and one of Kerr's most moving yet. (12up)