cover image If Not for You

If Not for You

Margaret Willey. HarperCollins Publishers, $11.95 (154pp) ISBN 978-0-06-026494-9

Bonnie has always envied her best friend Jenny's older sister, Linda, who ran away with the boy she loved, and married him. Linda is estranged from her family, even when she returns to town with a baby and her husband, and sets up a small household. And when she needs a baby sitter, she calls Bonnie instead of Jenny, which strains the younger girls' friendship. Slowly, Bonnie becomes drawn into Linda's world; Linda innocently uses Bonnie as not only a sympathetic ear, but also a connection between her sudden adulthood and the teenage world she so abruptly left. Bonnie is confused by her desire to help Linda; for if Linda needs help, isn't that proof that she is not perfect? Willey's third novel is riveting, as she penetrates and reveals the ways in which friendships flow and the ways in which they falter. Bonnie's romance with Robert, an extremely shy boy, is refreshingly depicted; seldom has new love between teens been expressed in terms so genuinely real. Ages 12-up. (October)