cover image Nothing Grows Here

Nothing Grows Here

Jean Thesman. HarperCollins Publishers, $14 (182pp) ISBN 978-0-06-024457-6

After her father's death, 12-year-old Maryanne and her mother leave their comfortable suburban home and move to the inhospitable Aristocrat Arms, a crowded, shabby apartment building in Seattle. Maryanne is especially hard-hit by the loss of the garden that she and her father had tended together. Still, Maryanne's new life is not without its bright spots: she becomes firm friends with cheerful, generous Lottie and establishes a frustrating but intriguing relationship with Tom, a confirmed troublemaker who's ``some sort of genius.'' In the course of a single difficult year, mother and daughter adjust to their loss and take the first steps toward what promises to be a rewarding future-complete with an overgrown, untended garden for Maryanne to nurse back to health. Spunky and resourceful Maryanne is a convincing narrator. Eccentric characters (such as Tom's mother, who communicates with her son via giant-sized messages hung from her balcony) and the recognizable comedies of daily life (e.g., junior high dances at which, of course, none of the boys dance) provide a colorful and authentic backdrop for Maryanne's inner struggles. Ages 9-up. (Sept.)